The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is slated to hit Mexico with more food insecurity and hard times for farmers by extending tariff exemptions to more countries.
The TPP has been negotiated, largely in secret, by 12 Pacific nations and incorporates 40% of the world's GDP. The deal is still to be ratified by parliaments of signatory countries of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States and Vietnam.
Under the TPP, a wide range of food products will be imported without tariffs, threatening local production. Basic grains, eggs, tuna, salt, oils, fruits, vegetables, and even bulbs of the agave plant famed in Mexico for its use in traditional tequila making, are all covered by the TPP.
Although the US and Canada already enjoy tariff breaks through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the TPP would extend the exemption to all 12 countries involved in the trade deal.
According to Mexican farmers, the TPP would be a disaster for local agriculture and could destine the sector to a total collapse.
The TPP's aggressive free trade agenda would worsen the economic, food security and agricultural challenges Mexico has already struggled with since NAFTA came into effect in 1994.
With the TPP looming, not only will Mexico be on the receiving end of waves of tariff free imports, but participating member states have also refused to cut subsidies to major agribusiness corporations involved in international trade. With cheaply produced imported crops on the market, local farmers may get pushed out, unable to compete with subsidised products.
Recently, rural groups urged the Mexican government to redistribute the 2016 budget in favour of small-scale agriculture, the antithesis of the agricultural model promoted in the TPP.
The TPP has been widely condemned for privileging corporate profits over international public interests. The secrecy around the deal and the negotiating process, which gave access to large corporations but largely locked out civil society, has been criticised as an international assault on democracy.
Participating governments now have a window of time to ratify or block the TPP. Activists around the world are looking to seize the opportunity to raise pressure on governments to put an end to the TPP once and for all.
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]
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