Fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership, defeat neoliberal trade of monopolies
Published: 22 January 2016
ILPS statement on the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chairperson, ILPS International Coordinating Committee
After half a decade of negotiations, parties to the US-conceived Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are set to sign the egregious trade deal on February 4 this year. The TPP is an international ‘free trade’ agreement (FTA) that onesidedly and excessively favors the imperialist countries and their monopoly firms at the expense of the people, especially in the underdeveloped and dependent countries countries. The people’s rights are prejudiced by the TPP imposing stricter rules on intellectual property rights, new standards on state-owned enterprises, government procurement, and provisions on investment protection.
The TPP encompasses 12 countries representing 40% of the global GDP or 25.5% of the world’s total trade volume. It is touted as the largest trade agreement in history binding the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries (New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) into a 21st century trade pact.
The secretly negotiated 6,000-page treaty released by WikiLeaks last October 2015 reveals treacherous terms and standards designed to further strengthen monopoly capitalist control over the global economy and the world’s resources. Beyond being just a trade deal, the TPP also plays a key role in advancing the geopolitical interests of US imperialism to maintain its hold in the Asia Pacific and contain the rising power of China in the region and beyond.
Indeed, in his final State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama urged Congress to approve the mega-trade deal because, “with TPP, China doesn’t set the rules in that region, we do.” As part of the US pivot to Asia, the TPP serves as the economic counterpart to the heightened military force projection by the US throughout Asia Pacific.
The TPP was born out of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) side meetings back in 2005 with Chile, Singapore, Brunei and New Zealand as its original members. In 2008 however, the US took hold of the negotiations and worked towards expanding the TPP membership to its current roster of member countries.
In 2014, the APEC Business Advisory Council proposed the concept of a Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific (FTAAP) – a mega-regional trade deal that aims to implement World Trade Organization (WTO) standards as well as solve the complex and often overlapping trade rules caused by multiple FTAs and bilateral agreements between and among countries.
However, the FTAAPfailed to gain traction due to major disagreements between China and the US on certain rules and provisions. In order to move forward, the APEC 2010 summit released an official communiquéannouncing to pursue the FTAAP by building on existing regional trade negotiations such as the TPP and its competitor, the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The opportunity to set regional standards on trade and investment, the chance to control almost half of global trade and the massive profits that can be tapped from a mega-region that shares more than half of the global GDP provided rabid motivation for the US and its allies to pursue the TPP. In one of her speeches during an APEC forum in Washington in 2011, Hilary Clinton suggested that the TPP membership must “…grow to include all APEC economies and that the TPPA will provide a foundation for an eventual FTAAP.”
During last year’s APEC summit in Manila, an official statement by the Chilean government announced the signing of the controversial trade deal on February 4 together with New Zealand’s proposal to host the said meeting. Some weeks after negotiating countries reached an agreement on the TPP, several countries in the region immediately announced their intent to join the trade negotiations. South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand have all previously expressed their desire to be part of the TPP.
Following a previous announcement that the country will not join the TPP, Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III also made a turnaround when he declared weeks ahead of the APEC summit in Manila that the country is once again keen to join the trade deal. After being initially silent about the TPP, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia also announced intent to join the TPP adding to the growing list of would-be TPP members.
Like many FTAs, the TPP was negotiated behind closed doors – only corporate advisors and lobbyists were given exclusive access to the text. In fact, TPP member states agreed in 2010 to prohibit any form of public release of the negotiating text until four years after an actual agreement has been made and/or abandoned. The secretive nature of the TPP and other trade deals in the offing attest to its anti-people character – as governments learned that the only way to complete such a deal is to avoid resistance by keeping it hidden from the very people who would have to live with its damaging consequences.
The TPP includes an insidious clause on investment disputes that allow corporations and big businesses to sue entire countries through a corporate tribunal known as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The ISDS allows corporations and foreign investors to file legal complaints against entire governments over actions perceived as inimical to profit-making and detrimental to future profits such as raising the minimum wage or increasing the quality of basic social services.
Under TPP conditions, signatory countries would also be obliged to reshape their domestic policies, laws and regulations in accordance with the agreement effectively dismantling any constitutional protection afforded by national laws in order to give way to greater corporate control.
Under the guise of ‘regulatory cooperation,’ enormous pressure is coming from big US corporations that want to ‘level the playing field’ between the private corporations and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) citing the unfair advantage and state subsidy given to the latter.
One of the most dangerous and controversial elements of the TPP is the section on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) that contain far-reaching implications across sectors and communities. For peasants and small food producers, this would entail restrictions in the use of seeds that have patented materials.
IPR rules also extend medicine patent rights for up to 25 years thereby enabling big pharmaceutical companies to monopolize the drug market and keep charging high prices without the competition of generic brands. Lastly, the TPP provision on data privacy severely limits internet freedom by compelling internet service providers to spy on user activity, and cut user access to common-generated content such as Youtube among others.
Mega-regional trade deals such as the TPP serve the current thrusts of imperialist globalization, namely: dismantle remaining labour protections and other measures for the protection of social welfare and the environment; privatize and commercialize sectors of the economy still under public or common ownership; deepen the compradorization and denationalization of third world economies; secure greater protections for monopoly capitalist property and profits. They serve to consolidate monopoly capitalist control by cementing corporate power and rewriting legal protections afforded by country constitutions.
These agreements will further channel the world’s wealth and resources to the hands of the 1% that control the biggest corporations and thus furtherbenefit from greater trade activity and stricter IPR protection as well as investment liberalization schemes.Therefore as the imperialists and their allies gather in the New Zealand’s capital for the signing of the TPPA on 4 February 2016, the ILPS calls on all its members and allied organizations:
- To conduct research and mass education on the implications and consequences of the TPP and other imperialist trade deals in different countries and carry out mass education on the people’s alternative to the existing monopoly capitalist system including an alternative framework for international economic cooperation based on solidarity, mutual benefit and respect for people’s sovereignty, and
- To intensify people’s protest actions against the TPP, FTAs, and imperialist globalization and mobilize the masses and their organizations, as well as students, academics, professionals, local entrepreneurs, national industrialists, parliamentarians and other affected sectors in underdeveloped and dependent countries against government efforts to ratify or join the TPP, and any attempt to adopt implementing legislation in support of the TPP and similar trade agreements.
Fight the Trans-Pacific Partnership!
Fight the US-instigated Free Trade Agreements under the neoliberal policy of imperialist globalization!
Uphold the sovereign right of underdeveloped and dependent countries to develop and free themselves from monopoly capitalism!
– See more at: http://www.ilps.info/index.php/en/statements/1965-fight-the-trans-pacific-partnership-defeat-neoliberal-trade-of-monopolies#sthash.ji9IuQdL.dpuf
CALL FOR ENDORSEMENTS: Petition to Malaysian authorities to stop judicial harassment against Jannie Lasimbang and other activists
Please find the petition below to Malaysian authorities to stop judicial harassment and intimidation against Jannie Lasimbang, former Secretary General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP). We need your support and solidarity to fight against this selective prosecution against her and other activists aimed at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities.
Please read the attached endorsement for more information and send in your endorsement (name of your organization and country) for the petition to our colleagues; Prabindra Shakya (email@example.com) and Hpuji Naung (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We look forward to receiving as many endorsements as possible. Kindly share this petition in your network as well.
Thank you very much for your support and cooperation.
24 January 2016
Honorable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Prime Minister, Government of Malaysia
Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building
Federal Government Administrative Centre, 62502 Putrajaya
Subject: Petition to stop judicial harassment against Jannie Lasimbang
Honorable Prime Minister,
We, the undersigned organizations, condemn the ongoing judicial harassment and intimidation against Ms. Jannie Lasimbang, a prominent human rights and indigenous rights leader, and call
on the Malaysian Government authorities to immediately drop all charges laid against her. We affirm that the targeted prosecution of Ms. Lasimbang, among other rights activists, is indicative of the closing space for civil society in Malaysia. We urge the Government to put an end to such prosecution and uphold the values of democracy and human rights.
Ms. Lasimbang is one of the former vice-chairpersons of the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), which is a campaign endorsed by over 60 Malaysian NGOs seeking electoral reforms and promotion of democratic rights in Malaysia. She is the first person to be charged under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) for her role in organizing the fourth series of peaceful assemblies of (Bersih 4.0). The assemblies were held in major cities in Malaysia, including Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, on 29 and 30 August 2015. There were subsequent assemblies in over 70 cities around the world in support of the main assemblies in Malaysia.
The overnight rally in Kota Kinabalu had more than 3,000 people in attendance but ended two hours shy of its 24-hour target after a police barricade stopped some 1,000 participants of the assembly from walking towards the city. The police had questioned Ms. Lasimbang immediately after the Bersih 4.0 assembly ended, along with along with others for their alleged role in organizing the assembly. She was not arrested; it therefore came as surprise to her to be charged
nearly two months later.
Ms. Lasimbang was charged on 21 October 2015 at the Kota Kinabalu Magistrate Court under Section 9(5) of the PAA 2012 for allegedly organizing the Bersih 4.0 assembly at Likas Bay Park without giving a 10-day notice to the city police chief prior to the event, as required under Article 10(c) of the PAA 2012. T Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah, the Chairperson of Bersih 2.0 was also later also charged under the same section.
We are informed that although Bersih Sabah had submitted the form required for the 10-day notice, the failure to append a consent letter from the owner of the Likas Bay Park (City Hall) was construed as not giving the 10-day notice.
The Kota Kinabalu Magistrate allowed Ms. Lasimbang bail of RM3,000 (approx. USD 697) with a deposit of RM1,000 (USD 232) for the charge and set the court date for 13 November 2015 for case management and 23 and 24 November 2015 to hear the case. The case management has since been rescheduled to 20 January, and the hearing to 26 and 27 January 2016. We are gravely concerned that if convicted, Ms. Lasimbang faces a maximum fine of RM20,000 (USD 4646) for two counts of the same charge, one for each day of the 2-day event. She has pleaded not guilty.
Ms Lasimbang, a former commissioner of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has also served as a member and chairperson of the UN Expert Mechanism on the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), established by the Human Rights Council under the United Nations. Former Secretary General of Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, she is currently at the forefront of indigenous rights advocacy in Malaysia as the Secretary General of the
Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia, also known as Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS).
We affirm that the selective prosecution of Ms. Lasimbang and other activists in Malaysia constitutes violations of national and international human rights obligations of the State, including under UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. The Declaration provides that for
the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels to meet or assemble peacefully (Art. 5(a)). It is the duty of State of Malaysia to “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone…against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration” (Art. 12).
We believe the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Lasimbang and others only aims at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities. Thus, we call on the Malaysian authorities to immediately drop all charges against them and rather engage constructively with the human
rights activists for advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Malaysia.
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
On behalf of the organizations listed in the below or annexed
Submitted via email to Hon’ble Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister, Government of Malaysia, Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal
Government Administrative Centre, 62502 Putrajaya, Malaysia.
l Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia.
l Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
(SUHAKAM), Tingkat 11, Menara TH Perdana, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur,
Malaysia. Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org