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Demand a fair deal for the environment

Posted Jan. 30, 2012 / Posted by: Bill Waren

Protest at the Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement negotiations this week in Beverly Hills and La Jolla, California.

Trade negotiators from around the Pacific Rim are gathering in southern California this week, January 31 - February 3, to hammer out the details on the most significant regional trade agreement the U.S. has contemplated in over a decade: the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.  Trade ministers and corporate lobbyists are meeting behind closed doors in luxury hotels and conference centers in Los Angeles and San Diego. The negotiating materials are kept secret from the public and even most members of Congress, but not from the official corporate advisers who are pushing hard for a "NAFTA of the Pacific."  

The TPP would be a platform for economic integration and government deregulation for nations surrounding the Pacific. The negotiations now include the United States, Chile, New Zealand, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, and Singapore, as well as the non-democratic governments of Brunei and Vietnam. In the near future, the TPP talks may very well be officially expanded to include Japan, Korea, Canada, Mexico, the Philippines and others; side negotiations with these countries are already underway.

This potentially makes the TPP as important as the EU common market in terms of its economic heft and environmental consequences. It also would make the TPP the most geographically-expansive deal since the Clinton and Bush Administrations sought a trade pact covering almost the whole of Western Hemisphere, the failed Free Trade Area of the Americas. 

Friends of the Earth is demanding a Fair Deal or No Deal in the TPP talks.  We seek to prevent another corporate trade deal that benefits the 1% of the super-wealthy at the expense of the environment and basic norms of social justice and democratic practice. When we, along with thousands of civil society activists throughout the Americas, held strong to these demands during the FTAA negotiations almost ten years ago, that trade pact failed.

Friends of the Earth is particularly fighting for:

  • The ability of governments to implement public policies designed to protect the climate, the environment, and public health, without fear of running afoul of trade rules.
  • The rejection of proposed TPP provisions authorizing multinational investors to claim monetary damages in compensation for environmental regulations. Big oil, mining multi-nationals, and giant agri-business are demanding investment provisions that would allow them to avoid responsibility for the environmental destruction, health risks and social injustice wrought by their investment projects around the Pacific Rim. 
  • Access to medicines and and a stop to the dangerous trend toward patenting of biological and genetic materials. Both issues would be greatly impacted by the intellectual property chapter of the TPP.
  • The ability of governments to pursue climate-friendly policies that subsidize renewable energy and that discourage subsidies for fossil fuels, deforestation, and corporate agriculture.

Now is the time to communicate these demands to U.S. and other TPP negotiators meeting in Los Angeles and San Diego. If you live in Southern California, please consider attending rallies organized by the California Fair Trade Coalition and endorsed by Friends of the Earth on Wednesday, February 1, in Beverly Hills and Friday February 3, in La Jolla. Click here for information and to sign up for the LA protest.

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