Harrop wrong about TPP

In her recent “Another View” column, Froma Harrop demonizes the left and her favorite punching bag, Bernie Sanders, for being against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. It saddens me that she touts only the superficial benefits while ignoring the corporate underpinnings of the deal.

Lori M. Wallach has been director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division since 1995. Unlike Harrop, Wallach is an expert on the operations and outcomes of trade policies such as NAFTA, WTO, Fast Track Track Trade Promotion Authority and more. She is steeped in the domestic and international politics of current trade negotiations and disputes, including the TPP.

As Wallach points out in “The New Rules of the Road: A Progressive Approach to Globalization (co-written with Jared Bernstein): “Globalization will surely proceed apace. Neither Donald Trump, Brexit voters, nor anyone else can put that toothpaste back in the tube.” Globalization notwithstanding, Wallach’s concern is what Harrop conveniently ignores: that these so-called “trade deals” are not really about trade at all. They are, as Wallach rightly contends, about “corporate interests whose goal is to establish binding, enforceable global rules that protect their investments and profits.”

This “corporate capture,” installed in the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter of the TPP (and ignored by Harrop) erodes the ”rights of citizens to democratically govern their own affairs and the ability of sovereign governments to effectively enforce worker, consumer and environmental safeguards.” In a nutshell, a huge multinational corporation can sue a sovereign nation if it feels its profits, current and future, are jeopardized by that country’s laws.

A recent example (and there are hundreds) is Phillip Morris suing the country of Uruguay for $25 million over what it considers a treaty violation regarding graphic cautions on cigarette packaging. OceanaGold recently lost a suit it had brought against El Salvador for having the audacity to protect its citizens from the arsenic used in their mining in their water. While a third of El Salvador’s citizens live below the national poverty line, the country was forced to spend more than $12 million on its legal defense. OceanaGold reimbursed them $8 million for the lost suit.

Andy Seles

Ashland