Social movements across Asia, Latin America, Oceania, and North America celebrated on November 15 the fact that their seven-year strategic campaign had successfully derailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a controversial trade deal widely condemned for privileging corporate profits over international public interest.
The TPP was a huge proposed trade deal involving 12 Pacific Rim nations, including Australia. If passed, it would have encompassed 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 announcement of its death came after the United States Obama administration conceded on November 11 that it could not gain congressional approval for the TPP, which had been its top priority since the pact’s February 2016 signing.
With bipartisan revolt against the deal in the US electorate, the social movements say the TPP is not likely to be resurrected.
For the past seven years, social movements across the globe have united to fight the TPP’s corporate agenda. Supporters of the TPP aimed to sign the deal in 2012 and push it through the political systems of each country before sufficient public attention could mount.
But the plan received strong resistance with civil society movements from Australia to Peru, New Zealand to Malaysia, and Chile to Japan, building up coalitions of opposition to the deal.
This campaigning created severe political liability for governments if they conceded to retrograde TPP proposals to expand monopolies for pharmaceutical firms, expand investor rights, deregulate finance and more.
It delayed the conclusion of the negotiations for years, providing time to organise opposition in the US.
Civil society networks across countries included in the proposed TPP celebrated the demise of the deal and stand resolved to fight as fiercely against any other trade deal that threatens basic human and environmental rights.
Selected statements from international campaigners:
In Australia, Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network, said: “Community groups in Australia and other TPP countries have campaigned since 2009 against the TPP corporate agenda, which gave more rights to global corporations and made it harder for governments to regulate them in the public interest.
“We will continue to campaign to ensure that the TPP is not used as a model for other trade agreements, and to advocate for fair trade based on the principles of human rights and environmental sustainability”
In Canada, Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, said: “The TPP is in full-blown cardiac arrest, thanks to years of international campaigning against this toxic deal…
“But the one thing I know from watching trade agreements is that free trade proponents always try to resuscitate these deals under different names… We need to put a ‘do not resuscitate’ order on these corporate deals once and for all.”
Carlos Figueroa Salazar, a Chilean anti-TPP campaigner, said: “The immense effort by many social movements to oppose the implementation of TPP harvested its first fruit …
“And this forces us to take the next step in reflection and struggle related to free trade agreements: to rethink the role of transnational corporations in them, their impact on the model of production, the impact on the environment and on the working conditions of thousands of workers throughout the world.”
Yasuo Kondo, from the Japanese coalition National Action to Stop TPP Ratification Japan, said: “We are proud of being a part of the international campaign to bury the TPP. As the Abe Administration is still persisting in passing and implementing bills and even his political agenda of TPP-plus, we will continue our struggle to the very end.”
Nizam Mahshar, the chair of BantahTPPA, a Malaysian coalition of 50 organisations opposing the TPP, said: “We believe that if the TPP were put into force, it would be the nail in the coffin for the people’s welfare, interest and sovereignty not only in the US, but throughout the 11 other signatory countries of the pact.
“However, this relief is only temporary, as those who seek to make supreme corporate rights and domination over the welfare, interests and sovereignty of the people will not rest … The struggle continues for trade and economic justice.”
Dr Jane Kelsey, from New Zealand’s It’s Our Future coalition, said: “An unprecedented campaign against the TPP brought together Kiwis from every walk of life — doctors, musicians, local governments, Maori, the Internet community, unionists and politicians, and many tens of thousands of ordinary Kiwis who took to the streets all over the country…
“We will continue to work with international allies to develop a progressive and just alternative based on the people’s needs for the 21st century, not those of the corporations.”
In a statement, the Mexico Better Off Without TPP Coalition said: “In the specific fight against TPP, we restarted a Latin American coordination with our brothers, friends and colleagues [across the region]. We strengthened our fraternal relationships with Canadian networks … and courageous civil organisations campaigning against the TPP in the United States and other TPP countries.
“The Mexican Coalition has called for a defeat of any ‘Plan B’ TPP without the US and similar treaties.”
Ana Romero, director of the Peruvian Network for Globalisation with Equality, said: “In Peru, for years we have been resisting the imposition of the TPP, because it was an anti-democratic pact negotiated in secret that sought to promote changes to the international trade rules at a global level …
“We have insisted that, for the people of Peru, the TPP is a project that validates the agenda of multinational corporate interests, strengthening the development model we’ve been facing for years in our countries that fails to prioritise the rights of people.”
Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of the United States Citizens Trade Campaign, said: “Lesson one from the TPP’s defeat is that just because the president of the United States and transnational corporations want something, it doesn’t mean we need to give it to them. With peoples’ movements united across borders and across sectors, we were able to stop a power grab by some of the most powerful economic and political interests in human history. That’s something to keep in mind during the hard years to come under President Trump and other corporate-aligned political leaders.”
[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]