US Senate caves on Trans-Pacific Partnership 'fast-track', nightmare free trade deal closer

May 17, 2015
The 'fast-track' bill was opposed by environmental and union groups.

In the United States Senate, Republicans eventually reached a deal on May 13 with a group of Senate Democrats over a bill that Democrats had unanimously rejected a day earlier, TeleSUR English said that day. It grants special “fast-track” powers to President Barack Obama to negotiate key free trade agreements.

The White House-backed legislation is crucial to pave the way to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which would be the largest free trade deal in the world. The bill had been surprisingly rejected by Democrat senators the day before, falling short of the 60 votes required with a 52 to 45 vote.

However, after one day of intense negotiations, Republicans added two provisions to the current legislation, a customs bill including rules against currency manipulation and one extending African trade benefits. This opened the way to agreement.

If approved by Congress, the legislation called Trade Promotion Authority would block Congress from amending free trade agreements negotiated by the president. Instead, any such agreement would have to be voted up or down within 90 days.

The fast track bill will be used in US negotiations over the TPP as well the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiations with the European Union.

The TPP is being negotiated in secret with 11 other Pacific nations - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand,Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. As well as government representatives, hundreds of corporate lobbyists are involved in the talks being carried out behind the backs of the people of the populations of the negotiating nations.

WikiLeaks has published leaked draft chapters of the TPP agreement on environment, intellectual property rights and investment. The leaked chapters confirm many of the fears of environmental, union and human rights activists over the dramatic increases in corporate power over elected governments that the proposed agreement fosters.

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