APEC, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, will be hosting a summit this November in Hawaii to promote a massive NAFTA-style trade agreement for the Pacific Rim. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement is an Asia-Pacific regional trade agreement currently being negotiated among the United States and eight other countries including Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam, but is also intended as a “docking agreement” that other Pacific Rim countries would join over time, such as Indonesia, Russia, Japan, the Philippines and possibly even China. The ongoing, multi-year negotiations over the Trans-Pacific FTA are supposed to conclude by November 2011. Even if that date slips, as is now expected, the window of opportunity for preventing the FTA from becoming a new “NAFTA for the Pacific Rim” is rapidly closing. Here are some of the questions yet to be answered:
- Labor rights: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA include labor standards based on International Labor Organization conventions, and if included, how will they be enforced?
- Investment Provisions: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA include so-called “investor-to-state” provisions that allow individual corporations to challenge environmental, consumer and other public interest policies as barriers to trade?
- Public Procurement: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA respect nations’ and communities’ right to set purchasing preferences that keep taxpayer dollars re-circulating in local economies?
- Access to Medicines: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA allow governments to produce and/or obtain affordable, generic medications for sick people?
- Agriculture: Will the Trans-Pacific FTA allow countries to ensure that farmers and farm workers are fairly compensated, while also preventing the agricultural dumping that has forced so many family farmers off their land?
About the Speaker: Lori Wallach is a trade lawyer, author and the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, an organization which promotes government and corporate accountability on issues involving trade and globalization. Wallach is a leading progressive voice on international trade and is an expert on domestic and international trade negotiations, disputes and policies including NAFTA, WTO, CAFTA and more. She is currently investigating the economic and labor implications of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will be discussed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Honolulu this November. For more information about Lori Wallach and her work click here or for more information about Global Trade Watch click here.