Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has reiterated his opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), saying on August 23 that United States President Barack Obama's push to get the trade deal passed during the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress is “outrageous” and “absolutely wrong”.
The TPP is a huge proposed trade deal involving 12 Pacific Rim nations, including Australia. It encompasses 40% of the world's GDP. It was negotiated in secret, but draft chapters published by WikiLeaks confirmed anti-TPP campaigners' worst fears of a huge power grab by corporations.
The criticism from Stiglitz comes as Obama aggressively campaigns to get US lawmakers to pass the TPP in the November 9 to January 3 window — even as resistance mounts against the 12-nation deal.
Echoing an argument made by Center for Economic and Policy Research co-director Mark Weisbrot, Stiglitz told CNN's Quest Means Business show: “At the lame-duck session you have congressmen voting who know that they're not accountable anymore.”
Lawmakers “who are not politically accountable because they're leaving may, in response to promises of jobs or just subtle understandings, do things that are not in the national interest,” he said.
Expressing his objections to the TPP, Stiglitz said corporate interests “were at the table” when it was being crafted. He also condemned “provisions on intellectual property that will drive up drug prices” and “the 'investment provisions' which will make it more difficult to regulate and actually harm trade”.
“The advocates of trade said it was going to benefit everyone,” he added. “The evidence is it's benefited a few and left a lot behind.”
Stiglitz has spoken out against the TPP before, saying it “may turn out to be the worst trade agreement in decades”. He pointed out that under the TPP's regulations, “if you pass a regulation that restricts ability to pollute or does something about climate change, you could be sued and could pay billions of dollars.”
Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton initially supported the TPP, but more recently came out against it. A big part of the campaign run by her left-wing challenger for the democratic nomination — Bernie Sanders — involved slamming the deal.
But for TPP opponents, uncertainty about her position remains. This is especially the case since she recently named former Colorado Senator and Interior Secretary — and “vehement advocate for the TPP” — Ken Salazar to be chair of her presidential transition team.
[Abridged from Common Dreams.]