Saturday, August 01, 2015

TPP Ministerial Deadlock

TPP Ministerial Deadlock

by Stephen Lendman

Friday’s fourth/dubbed “final” ministerial attempt to reach agreement failed. Global Trade Watch Director Lori Wallach called it a “Maui (Hawaii) meltdown.” 

Congress went on five-week summer recess with lots of unfinished business awaiting members in September - notably the Iran nuclear deal and 12 annual spending bills.

Wallach expects no 2015 congressional action on TPP - especially with other nations disagreeing on key provisions still unresolved. She believes chances for agreement are reduced because of “opposition building in many countries.”

“It’s good news for people and the planet that no deal was done at this final do-or-die meeting given the TPP’s threats to jobs, wages, safe food, affordable medicines and more, she explained. 

“Only the beleaguered negotiators and most of the 600 official US trade advisors representing corporate interests wanted this deal…” Polls show it’s unpopular in countries involved for good reason. 

It’s hugely anti-consumer/anti-environment. It’s a trade deal only corporate predators would love - along with government bureaucrats and other officials doing their bidding.

Ministerial disagreement is prelude to strong opposition once congressional members and the public see specific provisions adversely affecting their lives and welfare.

“Given the damaging impacts that some TPP proposals could have for many people, it’s not surprising that the same set of issues including investor-state dispute resolution and medicine patents as well as market access issues like sugar, dairy, and rules-of-origin on manufactured goods like autos remain deadlocked given they will determine whether a final pact is politically viable in various TPP countries,” Wallach explained.

Twenty-eight House Democrats backed Fast Track authority to ram TPP through Congress with minimal debate and no amendments. Many said their continued support depends on provisions mandating strong enforceable labor and environmental standards along with no changes in access to medicines by patent regulatory changes - standards TPP doesn’t meet.

The Financial Times called failure in Maui a “major blow…potentially complicating further the politics of an already controversial project.”

Days of Maui ministerial discussions were billed as a final negotiating round. Lots of disagreements remain - including market access for dairy products, autos and sugar, intellectual property rules, patents on pharmaceuticals and environmental concerns.

After five years of on-and-off negotiations, much remains unresolved. US Trade Representative Michael Froman put on a brave face saying “(w)e are more confident than ever that TPP is within reach.”

The timing of another meeting is uncertain - perhaps not until late this year when presidential politics heats up and Congress is pressured near yearend to resolve spending and other key issues before adjourning. 

The Wall Street Journal said “deep differences” remain. Whether resolvable so far is uncertain.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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