Global Corporate Rule by Free Trade AgreementPublished on December, 28 2013
by Nancy Price, Earth Democracy Issue Committee
Ministers from the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries who believe that global trade will lift all boats convened in Asia from Dec. 3-10. More than 90 Indonesian organizations and social movements called for a Global Day of Action on Dec. 3, the WTO opening day, but these were not covered in the US corporate-owned media.
The 9th Ministerial Meeting of the WTO was held Dec. 3-6 in Bali, Indonesia. With little success over the past 12 years, this meeting was crucial to the future of global trade and to head off possible WTO collapse in favor of the two large regional trade agreements now under negotiation: the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and The Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and 28 EU countries.
The TPP Ministers met in Singapore Dec. 7-10 after the secret preparatory meeting of chief negotiators and experts before Thanksgiving in Salt Lake City, where local groups and the Backbone Campaign organized street protests, Teach-Ins, and evening light-shows.
Global Trade and Climate Impact
Because, as you know, the latest round of international climate negotiations, the Conference of Parties or COP 19, that took place in Warsaw, Nov. 11-22, went up in smoke, we of the Earth Democracy Issue Committee must emphasize that increased regional trade both in the Pacific Rim and between the EU and the US will impact the climate and devastation will ripple across planet earth.
Nevertheless, the “Interim Environmental Review” of the TPP concluded that increased trade from the TPP is not likely to result in significant adverse environmental impacts in the US and that the likelihood and magnitude of any increased risk is difficult to quantify, but appears to be small in regard to global and trans-boundary environmental impacts.
We also call for the still secret TPP text, including the Environment Chapter, is released immediately so we can judge for ourselves.
Global Trade and Fracking: What you need to know.
Currently Japan, one of the negotiating TPP Pac-Rim countries, is the world’s top importer of liquid natural gas (LNG) produced by fracking. South Korea is not far behind and has indicated interest in joining TPP negotiations. Global trade and especially the TPP would greatly expand the number of countries “pre-qualified” for Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) exports under US law.
The US Natural Gas Act requires environmental and economic review before allowing an LNG export project to move forward—a process environmental organizers have often tried to exploit in order to raise the costs of a project and ultimately stop it. However, all this changes for exports going to countries with which the US has a Free Trade Agreement. The US Natural Gas Act explicitly states that these projects are automatically “deemed to be consistent with the public interest and applications for such importation or exportation shall be granted without modification or delay.”
Thus, by vastly increasing the number of countries with which the US has a Free Trade Agreement, such as with the Pacific Rim TPP and TAFTA countries, the number of LNG export projects that must be approved “without modification or delay” will vastly increase. Since the TPP will greatly reduce the authority of the EPA to regulate effectively to protect the environment and will allow for investor-to-state challenges of US environmental laws by foreign corporations, our environment will be further under attack.
World Trade Organization Ministerial Meeting
From December 3-6, 159 Member government representatives met at the 9th Ministerial, the highest decision-making body of the World Trade Organization, in Bali, Indonesia. On the verge of collapse, because previous meetings had failed to produce agreement, the WTO was considered on the verge of collapse. But with the meeting extended to Dec. 7, at the final hours exhausted negotiators finally pushed through the legally binding “Bali-package” criticized by members of civil society as only a “victory” for developed countries and their corporations and corporate investors at the expense of developing countries, the poor and the hungry.
In reaction, on Dec. 9, the Indigenous Environmental Network released their “Declaration: The World Trade Organization (WTO) and Indigenous Peoples: Resisting Globalization, Asserting Self-Determination.”
Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministers Meet
The TPP Ministers met from December. 7-10, and on Dec. 9, Wikileaks released two documents; the first revealing the talks are “paralyzed,” with disagreement on a large number of issues and the US, refusing to compromise, trying to bully other countries into submission. The second document is a list country-by-country of the many areas of disagreement including intellectual property and thirteen other chapters of the draft agreement. This suggests that the TPP negotiations can only be concluded if the Asia-Pacific countries back down on key national interest issues, otherwise the treaty will fail altogether.
Pres. Obama hopes that the "successful" break-through at the WTO meetings will carry over into success at the TPP Ministerial. Now that the U.S. has failed to bully the other countries, the negotiations have fallen apart and there will be no TPP agreement by the end of the year. This will give us time to Stop Fast Track so that we can Stop the TPP.
Top Image: The WILPF Earth Democracy logo was designed and donated by www.ciafront.org.
Second Image: Salt Lake City resident Raphael Cordray of Peaceful Uprising and Utah Tar Sands Resistance. The Grand America Hotel in the background is where the TPP delegates were meeting.