Planet Not For Sale

President’s Annual March Trade Agenda

Eyes on Trade - 3 March, 2016 - 14:23

Administration Continues to Use Debunked Talking Points to Sell TPP

The Obama administration released the 2016 Trade Policy Agenda today as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) faces increasing bipartisan opposition in the U.S. House and Senate. However, instead of addressing the growing chorus of concerns in the 2016 trade agenda, the administration continues to push debunked talking points to the American people in hopes of selling the controversial agreement.

Public Citizen has already debunked most of talking points included in the 2016 trade agenda report:

Debunked talking point: More than 18,000 tax cuts on Made-in-America exports.

  • Reality: The Obama administration is trying to shift focus to an impressive-sounding number with its mantra about TPP delivering “18,000 tax cuts for Made in America exports.” But that is just the raw number of tariff lines cut by the five TPP nations with which the United States does not already have free trade agreements (FTAs). The United States only sold goods to those nations in less than 7,500 of the 18,000 categories. Indeed, the United States exports no goods to any nation under some of the touted 18,000 tariff lines.

 


 

 

Debunked talking point: The President’s trade agenda is focused on supporting U.S. jobs and raising wages.

 Debunked Talking Point: Putting more money in middle class pockets.

  • Reality: A recent study finds the TPP would spell a pay cut for all but the richest 10 percent of Americans by exacerbating income inequality, as past trade deals have done. That would contradict Obama’s 2015 State of the Union inequality reduction goal. Macroeconomic theory predicts if Americans face more competition from workers in Vietnam who make less than 65 cents/hour, wages will be pushed down. Sixty percent of manufacturing workers losing jobs to trade who find reemployment face pay cuts, with one in three losing more than 20 percent, per U.S. DoL data. There is academic consensus that trade has contributed to the major rise in inequality.

Debunked talking point: The TPP is preserving our environment.

Debunked talking point: The TPP is promoting our values.

  • Reality: While the Obama administration is celebrated for its defense of gay equality after dust-binning the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and joining those announcing that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, it decided to allow Brunei to remain in the TPP even after the country announced that it would begin stoning to death gays and single mothers under new sharia-based laws. This has led to LGBTQ groups joining the TPP opposition.

Debunked talking point: The TPP is promoting the U.S. auto industry.

  • Reality: The TPP would threaten the president’s successful rescue of the U.S. auto industry and thousands of U.S. jobs. It would allow vehicles comprised mainly of Chinese and other non-TPP country parts and labor to gain duty free access. This would gut the rules of origin established in NAFTA that condition duty free access on 62.5 percent of value being from NAFTA countries. Ford has supported all past U.S. trade deals, but opposes the TPP.

Debunked talking point: 98 percent of U.S. exporters are small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

  • Reality: SMEs comprise most U.S. exporting firms simply because they constitute 99.7 percent of U.S. firms overall. However, only 3 percent of U.S. SMEs export any good to any country. In contrast, 38 percent of large U.S. firms are exporters. The relatively few small businesses that do actually export have seen even more disappointing export performance under FTAs than large firms have seen. U.S. small businesses have seen their exports to Korea decline even more sharply than large firms under the Korea FTA (a 14 percent versus 3 percent decrease), while small firms’ exports to Mexico and Canada under NAFTA have grown less than half as much as large firms’ exports. Indeed, small firms’ exports to all non-NAFTA countries have exceeded by more than 50 percent the growth of their exports to NAFTA partners.

 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Debunking the Administration’s TPP = 18,000 Tax Cuts on U.S. Exports Talking Point

Eyes on Trade - 24 February, 2016 - 21:31

U.S. Sold Nothing in More than 10,600 of Those Categories...

Without compelling jobs or economic growth data to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Obama administration is trying to shift focus to an impressive-sounding number with its mantra about TPP delivering “18,000 tax cuts for Made in America exports.”

But that is just the raw number of tariff lines cut by the five TPP nations with which the United States does not already have free trade agreements. The United States only sold goods to those nations in less than 7,500 of the 18,000 categories. Indeed, the United States exports no goods to any nation under some of the touted 18,000 tariff lines.

The 18,000 figure is a misdirect. The relevant question is not the number of tariff cuts other countries listed but whether the TPP would lead to net U.S. job creation, higher wages, an improved trade balance and higher U.S. growth rates.

  • The United States exported nothing for more than half of the 18,000 categories to the five relevant nations – Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei – in 2014, the last year for which annual data is available. U.S. exporters already have “tax cuts” for their goods under previous trade deals with the other six TPP nations, including Canada and Mexico – our second and third largest trade partners.
  • For the nearly 7,500 categories of goods out of the 18,000 for which we sold anything to the five nations without previous FTAs, almost 50 percent of the categories had sales under $500,000. And the TPP is not likely to transform that reality. Brunei (annual GDP $17.1 billion) is a tiny market. New Zealand (annual GDP $200 billion – smaller than San Diego) and Vietnam (annual GDP $186.2 billion – close to that of Denver) are not big markets. And, consumer demand is limited by Vietnam’s extremely low $2,052 per capita income. Malaysia’s per capital income is one fifth of that in the United States and its GDP is $338.1 billion, about the size of Atlanta. Japan is a huge market. But, with the exception of some agricultural goods, tariffs have not been the main barriers to U.S. exports to Japan. (GDP data from the World Bank)
  • Almost 2,000 of the tariff reductions in the categories of products the United States does sell won’t be realized for over a decade. This includes some of those, such as beef and pork to Japan, where tariff cuts could make a difference. But because the TPP does not have enforceable disciplines against currency manipulation, by the time these cuts finally go into effect they could effectively have been erased if Japan devalues the yen.

  • The administration’s “TPP Guide to 18,000 Tax Cuts” document bizarrely highlights goods TPP nations simply do not buy in volume from anyone. Consider the 34 percent “tax” cut by low-income Vietnam on Alaskan caviar. About $150,000 worth of caviar was imported by Vietnam from anywhere. Or Vietnam’s 5 percent tariff cut on skis. Vietnam only imported about $50,000 in skis in total.
  • Many of the tax cuts the administration has touted include those that the administration claims the TPP’s weak environmental chapter would conserve. Among the 18,000 tax cuts are Malaysia’s shark fin tariffs, Vietnam’s whale meat tariffs and Japan’s ivory tariffs.

Indeed, the “tax cut” list is packed with gems. Christmas ornaments and pork for Muslim nations Malaysia and Brunei. Silkworm cocoons for Vietnam and Japan. Ski boots for Brunei. Camels for Vietnam.

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Remarks at the National Press Club Panel on the Proposed Inclusion of ISDS in the TPP

Eyes on Trade - 17 February, 2016 - 21:47

Delivered by Lise Johnson, Head: Investment Law and Policy, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, at the National Press Club in Washington DC on February 11, 2016

With the TPP, we are currently at a crucial crossroads. We either take this time to thoroughly evaluate ISDS and its costs and benefits, which, I believe, would take us in a new and more thoughtful direction, or we simply move forward with the TPP, entrenching and expanding a failed experiment in economic policy.

I refer to ISDS as an experiment because, although it is commonly noted that there are 3,000 investment treaties around the world and, therefore, that the ISDS mechanism is nothing new, the first investment treaty with ISDS was actually not concluded until the late 1960s. Investment treaties with ISDS were not widely negotiated until the 1990s, and ISDS claims only really emerged in earnest in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Thus, we really only have roughly 15 years of experience with this mechanism. ISDS is still a new area of law. An experiment.

I note that ISDS is a failed experiment because it does not appear to have achieved three of the commonly stated objectives of the mechanism. It has not led to increased investment flows, nor to a set of predictable international legal rights for investors, nor to an increase in the rule of law in host countries.

If the TPP were concluded with ISDS, we would not only be entrenching this failed experiment, but significantly expanding it. Currently, the US only has an investment treaty with one major capital exporting state, Canada, meaning that only a relatively small share of foreign direct investment in the US – roughly 10% -- is currently protected by a treaty with ISDS. With the TPP, the percentage of covered investment will more than double; and if we continue the trend in the TTIP as well, the amount of covered FDI in the US will rise significantly to approximately 70%, and along with it, the US’s exposure to costly litigation and liability.

Now, the US has said that the experiment has not cost the Government anything, frequently highlighting the point that it has yet to lose an ISDS case. But there are a few reasons why I don’t think we should count on the past to predict the future:

  • As I noted, the US’s exposure has been fairly limited; this will change with the TPP;
  • Second, in the cases the US has defended, the US has had near misses in which even the government officials working on the case thought the Government would lose; one explanation given for why arbitrators have been reluctant to rule against the US is that, if the US were to lose, it would back away from the system to the ultimate detriment of the arbitrators and counsel who make their living from ISDS cases. Thus, at least while the future of ISDS felt uncertain, it has been in the best interest of arbitrators to take it easy on the US.
  • Third, recent decisions reflect the significant delegation of authority under ISDS to arbitrators to interpret and apply the treaty, without any meaningful review or opportunity to appeal the arbitrators’ decisions. The tribunal in a recent case against the US, for example, stated that although all three NAFTA states unanimously agreed that the treaty meant “X”, it didn’t consider itself bound to that interpretation and proceeded to disregard it. This shows that there is no guarantee that tribunals will interpret treaty provisions in a way that is consistent with the US’s understanding of what treaty obligations mean.2
  • Fourth, the US has lost on key issues that have resulted in an expansion of exposure to future claims and damages.3

Moreover, irrespective of data on wins and losses, the system of ISDS itself is fundamentally flawed in that it creates a privileged and powerful system of protections for foreign investors that is inconsistent with, and erodes, the power of domestic law and institutions.

The USTR has defended ISDS against such charges by saying that the standards of protection investors receive under it mirror, but do not go beyond, the protections provided under domestic law and that therefore ISDS does not represent any change or threat to domestic law as we know it.4 But there are two key problems with the USTR’s assertion. One is that it is not correct that investment treaties do not provide foreign investors any greater rights than are provided under domestic law. We’ve done significant research comparing the protections provided under domestic law with those provided under investment treaties, and conclude that the protections provided under investment treaties in fact give foreign investors greater rights than they or anyone else have under domestic law.5 In fact, this seems to be why TransCanada, which is suing the US government as a result of the denial of the Keystone permit, is pursuing its major claim for $15 billion through the NAFTA as opposed to through domestic litigation.

But, even accepting the USTR’s argument that the substantive standards in investment treaties simply mirror substantive standards provided under US domestic law still does not address some of the significant concerns about ISDS. In this context, it is important to recall that ISDS allows investors to challenge actions of officials at any level of government – local, state, and federal, and conduct by any branch – executive, legislative and judicial. The fact that a measure is entirely consistent with domestic law is no defense or shield against liability.

What ISDS does is give private arbitrators the power to decide cases that, at their core, are merely questions of domestic constitutional and administrative law dressed up as treaty claims. Instead of recourse through local, state or federal domestic institutions, investors are able to take their claims to a panel of party-appointed international arbitrators and ask them to determine the bounds of proper administrative, legislative, and judicial conduct.

One might ask: what does it matter if we permit foreign investors to bring their claims against the government before international arbitrators as opposed to before domestic courts if the substantive standards of protection are the same? The answer is that it matters a great deal.

  • One, there is no route for a meaningful appeal. Even if a tribunal gets the law or facts wrong, its decision will likely stand;
  • Two, the decision makers in ISDS are free of the requirements of independence, impartiality, and high ethical standards that are mandatory for US judges;
  • Three, in domestic litigation, if a court issues a decision that is inconsistent with legislative intent, the legislature can pass a law correcting that decision; the legislature, however, has no power to undo or otherwise override an ISDS decision;
  • Four, the procedural rules and remedies are significantly different depending on whether an investor brings its claims through ISDS or through domestic courts, with meaningful impacts on the government’s potential exposure to claims and liability; and
  • Five, even if the law looks the similar, it is not the same. So, for example, although the TPP incorporates what superficially looks like the US’s test on regulatory expropriations, tribunals are not in any way bound to apply that test in the same manner as US courts.

Fundamentally, supranational adjudication—where the decisions of a supranational body can penetrate deep into a domestic society—is rare and raises a host of complex legal and policy questions. Much more consideration of these issues is important before we inadvertently dilute constitutional protections, weaken the judicial branch, and outsource our domestic legal system to a system of private arbitration that is isolated from essential checks and balances. This is not to say that supranational adjudication has no place in the American legal system, but rather that ISDS is an extreme, discriminatory and unnecessary version that will have undue negative effects on our domestic law and institutions.

  1. Data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
  2. See Lise Johnson, “New Weaknesses: Despite a major win, arbitration decisions in 2014 increase the US’s future exposure to litigation and liability,” (CCSI 2015), at p. 8, available at http://ccsi.columbia.edu/files/2013/12/9.-Johnson-New-Weaknesses-US-roundup.pdf
  3. See cases discussed Id.
  4. USTR, Fact Sheet: “Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS),” (March 2015), https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/fact-sheets/2015/march/investorstate-dispute-settlement-isds (“These investment rules mirror rights and protections in the United States and are designed to provide no greater substantive rights to foreign investors than are afforded under the Constitution and U.S. law”).
  5. See, e.g., Johnson and Volkov, “Investor-State Contracts, Host-State ‘Commitments,’ and the Myth of Stability in International Law,” 24 American Review of International Arbitration 361 (2013); Lise Johnson, Lisa Sachs, and Jeffrey Sachs, “Investor-State Dispute Settlement, Public Interest, and U.S. Domestic Law,” (May 2015), available at http://ccsi.columbia.edu/files/2015/05/Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement-PublicInterest-and-U.S.-Domestic-Law-FINAL-May-19-8.pdf
Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Resúmenes de fallos de la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ), ¡en español!

Blog de Javier Echaide - 16 February, 2016 - 21:02
La Corte Internacional de Justicia ha actualizado su base de datos de resúmenes de sus sentencias y las ha actualizado al mes de diciembre 2015. Considerando que estamos en febrero de 2016, la actualización realmente es importante.
Antes de este trabajo, la disponibilidad de estos resúmenes se hallaban disponibles hasta el año 2013 inclusive.

Estos trabajos son de suma utilidad para el estudio del derecho internacional así como para su enseñanza. Los resúmenes son oficiales y realizados por la propia CIJ y puestos a disposición en seis idiomas, incluido el español. Los idiomas oficiales de la CIJ son solamente inglés y francés, por lo que la publicación de sus sentencias (en completo) sólo se hacen en dichos idiomas. El poder contar con estos resúmenes, que sean además oficiales, y que estén en español, son de muchísima utilidad.

¡A aprovechar!
Categories: Planet Not For Sale

On World Cancer Day, Cancer Patients Arrested at PhRMA Headquarters to Warn of ‘Death Sentence’ Imposed by Trans-Pacific Partnership Expansion of Medicine Monopolies

Eyes on Trade - 4 February, 2016 - 23:03

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On World Cancer Day, two cancer patients – supported by health professionals and public health advocates – were arrested as they engaged in civil disobedience to dramatize their life-and-death concerns about the expansion of medicine monopolies pushed by brand-name pharmaceutical companies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Zahara Heckscher, a 51-year old mother and author from Washington, D.C., who has been in treatment for aggressive breast cancer for seven years, and Hannah Lyon, a 29-year old from California who is in treatment for aggressive cervical cancer, linked arms and refused to leave the lobby of the office building that houses PhRMA, the trade association that has pushed for extreme monopolies in the TPP, while dozens of supporters chanted outside. 

They loudly shouted that the TPP would be a “death sentence” for many cancer patients by keeping life-saving cancer medicines out of reach due to exorbitant monopoly pricing. They shouted until they were arrested by the D.C. police and charged with unlawful entry.

For royalty-free video and photos of Hecksher’s and Lyon’s arrest: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/68eadvlygp3z85i/AABY6Pq1drD9v4WLXoq4-N4ca?dl=0

 “The TPP will effectively take some patients backwards in time to the dark ages of cancer treatment. It will prevent too many people with cancer – and other life threatening illnesses – from accessing the new treatments they need to stay alive,” said Heckscher, explaining why she felt compelled to risk arrest protesting the TPP at PhRMA today. “One of my current medicines would cost me $118,000 per year if I were not in a clinical trial. PhRMA pushed for provisions in the TPP that, if passed, would lock in policies in the U.S. that keep medicine prices obscenely high.”

Lyon echoed Heckscher’s concerns. “I have never spoken in public or engaged in civil disobedience before, but I know at a deeply personal level the life and death stakes for many cancer patients if the TPP is approved,” she said. “Cancer patients do not have the luxury to wait five or eight years for access to affordable medicines while PhRMA establishes extended monopolies to continue to reap outrageous profits. I want Congress to pay attention to the concerns of patients who need affordable medicine instead of catering to PhRMA lobbyists, and reject the TPP.”

Before risking arrest, Heckscher and Lyon were joined in a news conference and demonstration at PhRMA headquarters by other cancer patients, survivors, health professionals and public health advocates, wearing scrubs and surgical masks and holding signs that read “On World Cancer Day, Cancer Patients Say No TPP Death Sentence” and “Shame on PhRMA! No TPP Death Sentence.” Advocates held oversized pill bottles with giant price tags and chanted.

For royalty-free photos of the protest: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/4ad5p5m0qa2yv5t/AAADolARAKk6UE1uFhUmdOzha?dl=0

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, put the struggle against the TPP ‘death sentence’ in a broader context: “Pharmaceutical industry greed has reached heights never seen before. The price of medicines has nothing to do with the cost of making them – and virtually nothing to do with the cost of research and development. Big Pharma companies are price gouging simply because they can. Drug prices are so high because there’s no competition, and because Big Pharma spent more than $1.2 billion on lobbying over the past five years and it employs an army of more than 1,400 registered lobbyists to keep it that way. As part of a comprehensive strategy to reform our broken system, we must fight Big Pharma’s scheme to win still more expanded monopoly protections through the TPP – an effort not just to impose high prices on other countries, but to block our reform agenda and maintain super-high prices in the United States indefinitely.”

Alison Case, a physician with the American Medical Student Association, gave a prospective from health professionals: “The TPP sets a dangerous precedent for our future patients by threatening access to medicines and public health. The provisions on intellectual property, including provisions regarding life-saving biologics used to treat cancer, were designed with heavy industry input in a completely non-transparent way,” she said. “This will only further an environment of high drug costs and frustratingly difficult struggles for patients who need them.”

Hilary McQuie, director of U.S. government policy at HealthGap, noted that the TPP provisions could delay efforts to end the AIDS epidemic. “We now have over 15 million people worldwide getting HIV treatment, and if we keep increasing resources to test and treat at this rate, we will end the AIDS epidemic by 2030. The only way this has been possible was through hard-won struggles to allow for massive generic imports by low and middle income countries. If in place a decade ago, the TPP’s provisions would have prevented member countries the ability to develop the very HIV treatment programs that millions are dependent on today.”

For more information on the TPP and access to medicines, see:

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TPP signing represents corporate wish list; farmers, consumers and the environment lose

Subtitle:  Opposition grows as trade deal faces uphill battle in Congress Language:  English IATP author(s):  Karen Hansen-Kuhn Ben Lilliston File:  2016_02_03_TPP_Signing_PR.pdf Minneapolis/Washington D.C. – The controversial Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed today in New Zealand, as opposition to the corporate-friendly deal continues to grow in the U.S. and other participating countries. The agreement now has to go to national legislatures for ratification. The TPP has been broadly criticized for expanding the legal rights of foreign corporations to challenge national and local regulations. IATP has also criticized the TPP for its potentially adverse impacts on...

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On TPP Signing Day, Activists Urge Congress to ‘Let It Go’; Frozen Themed Performance Kicks Off 48 Hours of Anti-TPP Protests Around the World

Eyes on Trade - 3 February, 2016 - 20:52


Fair Trade Princess Ilsa Performs Her Rendition of ‘TPP: Let It Go’ Accompanied by a Cast of Dozens of Frosty Friends

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As representatives of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries gather in New Zealand to officially sign the controversial agreement, activists today at the National Press Club delivered a clear message to Congress: “Let It Go.”

In a Broadway-style performance of a parody version of the Frozen anthem, Fair Trade Princess Ilsa kicked off 48 hours of national and international anti-TPP demonstrations with her rendition of “TPP: Let It Go.” Today’s event will kick off a very chilly year for the TPP in Congress, where the pact’s fate is at best uncertain. All U.S. presidential candidates with more than 5 percent support in any state oppose the deal, and vibrant TPP opposition movements are growing across the country and around the world.

Download the royalty-free video: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/z6rzhs99xyp5cbt/AAD46IcVOPK1ClokqLSHEuoHa?dl=0

Download the royalty-free photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/v0g2uj3lxyhayql/AABAFx5cg47Hzq4qhD4ODrO6a?dl=0

Hear the song: https://soundcloud.com/global-trade-watch/tpp-let-it-go 

The TPP parody song spotlights the secrecy of TPP negotiations and the role of the 500 official U.S. trade advisers mainly representing corporate interests. Fair Trade Princess Ilsa sang about how the TPP would make it easier to offshore more American jobs and increase inequality with Americans who would be put into more direct competition with workers in Vietnam who make 65 cents an hour: 

“The TPP is all about greed
Corporations wrote the rules
Offshore jobs, lower wages
and democracy overruled”

Fair Trade Princess Ilsa, a proponent of access to affordable medicines for patients across the globe, took PhRMA to task:

“TPP would raise the price of meds
keeping the sick dying in their beds”

Today’s “TPP: Let It Go” performance marks the beginning of protests and anti-TPP demonstrations in 30 cities across the United States and in TPP signatory countries, including a major march protesting the TPP signing ceremony in Auckland, New Zealand. With respect to the strength of the anti-TPP movement, Fair Trade Princess Ilsa sang:

“Our power’s growing, the opposition is so strong
From climate to human rights, the TPP is wrong
We won’t stand by and let the corporations win
The TPP will end up in history’s trash bin”

Before Fair Trade Princess Ilsa concluded her brief appearance at the National Press Club, after being rained out of her original performance venue in front of the White House, she had one clear message for Congress:

“Let it go! Let it go!
Our movement is gonna soar
Let it go! Let it go!
‘Til the TPP is no more

Here we stand
and to Congress we say:
on TPP, vote no


 or you better watch out on Election Day!”

 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

A review of the actual text of the Peterson Institute for International Economics’ (PIIE) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) study update that was recently released – versus the slanted press coverage – shows:

Eyes on Trade - 28 January, 2016 - 19:16
  • The study’s methodology relies on absurd assumptions.
  • Even so, the claimed gains for the U.S. are small.
  • The study identifies significant downsides for the United States, including more than 500,000 U.S. jobs lost in the pact’s first 10 years.

Despite the administration’s rosy framing, even the PIIE’s pro-TPP study predicts lackluster results for U.S. economic growth as well as U.S. job losses.

Income gains from the TPP, as predicted by PIIE, are VERY small – a TOTAL of one-half of one percent by 2030 – i.e. a rounding error of under 0.036 percent per year. That is to say, the gain in U.S. growth with the TPP at the end of 15 years sums up to 0.5 percent. TPP proponents use the gross number to be able to tout “billions” in gains because in context to projected U.S. economic growth without the TPP, the so-called TPP gain is miniscule.

  • The sum total of projected U.S. economic gains approximately equals the amount that Americans will spend on St. Patrick’s Days, over-the-counter teeth whiteners and tattoos by the time the TPP’s benefits are supposed to materialize.
  • Notes CEPR’s Dean Baker: “The study’s projection of a cumulative gain to GDP of 0.5 percent by 2030 implies an increase in the annual growth rate of 0.036 percentage points. This means that if the economy was projected to grow by 2.2 percent a year in a baseline scenario, it will instead grow at a 2.236 percent rate with the TPP, assuming the Peterson Institute projections prove correct. The projections imply that, as a result of the TPP, the country will be as rich on January 1, 2030 as it would otherwise be on April 1, 2030.”

The Obama administration was called out by the Wall Street Journal for trying to distort this paltry gain, which they are touting because the only official U.S. government study undertaken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that the TPP would have no economic benefits for the U.S. economy.

  • The USDA study concluded that even if all tariffs were slashed to zero (which did not happen) the TPP would increase U.S. GDP by 0.00 percent in 2025. You read that right – 0 percent. It doesn’t get any lower than that.

The meager projected TPP gain in the U.S. economy comes even despite the study’s use of a model that assumes no job loss or rise in inequality, two of the issues of greatest concern to many TPP opponents. 

  • Yet even using a methodology that assumes full employment, buried in the fine print of the Peterson Institute’s study is a prediction that 53,700 U.S. jobs PER YEAR will be displaced in the TPP’s first ten years. That is, the total job loss projected by the study, despite its rosy assumptions, is more than 537,000 lost jobs in the pact's first decade.

Another recent economic modeling study concluded that 450,000 American jobs would be lost under the TPP.

  • The TPP includes rules that will make it easier to offshore more American jobs to low wage countries.

Using an economic model that allows for the possibility of less than full employment and rising income inequality, Tufts University economists found that the TPP would result in a net loss of income in the United States and significant job loss.

  • There is academic consensus that trade has contributed to the major rise in inequality. A recent study finds the TPP would spell a pay cut for all but the richest 10 percent of Americans by exacerbating income inequality, as past trade deals have done.
  • Macroeconomic theory predicts if Americans face more competition from workers in Vietnam who make less than 65 cents/hour, wages will be pushed down.
  • Sixty percent of manufacturing workers losing jobs to trade who find reemployment face pay cuts, with one in three losing more than 20 percent, per U.S. Department of Labor data.
Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Administration’s TPP Honey SOTU Guest: Falsely Sweet Story Exemplifies TPP Sales Job

Eyes on Trade - 12 January, 2016 - 15:53

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Obama SOTU guest Ronna Rice and her company Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey should be congratulated on their success. Tomorrow the President will no doubt talk about how the TPP will help her sell more honey. Yet like much of the White House TPP sale job, the nice narrative is not supported by the facts. Here’s why you shouldn’t swallow this falsely sweet example:

  • U.S. honey exports to eight of the 11 other TPP nations (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore) already are duty free without the TPP! So, why is Ms. Rice and her firm being pitched as benefitting from the TPP?
  • Vietnam has a 10% tariff that goes away on day one of a TPP, but they won’t be importing our honey: Vietnam is the United States’ second largest source of honey imports. (We import a lot of honey from Vietnam.)
  • Malaysia is our sixth largest import source, which is curious given the country has fewer than 60 commercial bee operations. (Answer: Malaysia is implicated in the China honey transshipment scam. There’s a large U.S. anti-dumping order against Chinese honey now.) 
  • As far as how Ms. Rice and Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey will be affected, both Vietnam and Malaysia newly would get duty-free access into the U.S. market on day one of a TPP – rather than have to pay our current 1.9 cent per kilo tariff on their imports. Like usual, the administration only hypes inflated export claims, but fails to consider imports or the net effect of a trade pact.
  • Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey focusses mainly on the U.S. market ... That is typical for U.S. small businesses. Exporting is mainly the realm of big business. Only 3 percent of U.S. small and medium enterprises export any good to any country. In contrast, 38 percent of large U.S. firms are exporters. The White House line about small businesses being the largest number of U.S. exporting firms is just a reflection of the fact that 99.7 percent of U.S. businesses meet the “less than 500 employees” definition of SMEs. 
  • So what is the ostensible upside for Ms. Rice and her firm?? Tiny New Zealand’s 10% tariff goes away day one of a TPP ... Its population is the same as the Boston metro area, but its purchasing power is lower. So, NZ is not the prize. 
  • So 
 it boils down to Japan. There’s a 25.5% tariff on honey in Japan now, which goes to zero in year eight of the TPP. BUT, even though the United States sells quite a bit of honey in Japan now, China flattens us in Japan with respect to relative market share.

The real TPP story for Lucky Clover honey is not so sweet. For the years until the Japan-Korea-China FTA goes into effect, would the TPP tariff cut increase the U.S. share of Japan’s imported honey market relative to China? And more critically, would any such exports gains in Japan even make up for the increased imports of duty-free Vietnam and Malaysia honey into the United States under the TPP – more import competition in the firm’s main market? 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Administration’s TPP Honey SOTU Guest: Falsely Sweet Story Exemplifies TPP Sales Job

Eyes on Trade - 12 January, 2016 - 15:53

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy. Obama SOTU guest Ronna Rice and her company Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey should be congratulated on their success. Tomorrow the President will no doubt talk about how the TPP will help her sell more honey. Yet like much of the White House TPP sale job, the nice narrative is not supported by the facts. Here’s why you shouldn’t swallow this falsely sweet example:

  • U.S. honey exports to eight of the 11 other TPP nations (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore) already are duty free without the TPP! So, why is Ms. Rice and her firm being pitched as benefitting from the TPP?
  • Vietnam has a 10% tariff that goes away on day one of a TPP, but they won’t be importing our honey: Vietnam is the United States’ second largest source of honey imports. (We import a lot of honey from Vietnam.)
  • Malaysia is our sixth largest import source, which is curious given the country has fewer than 60 commercial bee operations. (Answer: Malaysia is implicated in the China honey transshipment scam. There’s a large U.S. anti-dumping order against Chinese honey now.) 
  • As far as how Ms. Rice and Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey will be affected, both Vietnam and Malaysia newly would get duty-free access into the U.S. market on day one of a TPP – rather than have to pay our current 1.9 cent per kilo tariff on their imports. Like usual, the administration only hypes inflated export claims, but fails to consider imports or the net effect of a trade pact.
  • Rice’s Lucky Clover Honey focusses mainly on the U.S. market ... That is typical for U.S. small businesses. Exporting is mainly the realm of big business. Only 3 percent of U.S. small and medium enterprises export any good to any country. In contrast, 38 percent of large U.S. firms are exporters. The White House line about small businesses being the largest number of U.S. exporting firms is just a reflection of the fact that 99.7 percent of U.S. businesses meet the “less than 500 employees” definition of SMEs. 
  • So what is the ostensible upside for Ms. Rice and her firm?? Tiny New Zealand’s 10% tariff goes away day one of a TPP ... Its population is the same as the Boston metro area, but its purchasing power is lower. So, NZ is not the prize. 
  • So 
 it boils down to Japan. There’s a 25.5% tariff on honey in Japan now, which goes to zero in year eight of the TPP. BUT, even though the United States sells quite a bit of honey in Japan now, China flattens us in Japan with respect to relative market share.

The real TPP story for Lucky Clover honey is not so sweet. For the years until the Japan-Korea-China FTA goes into effect, would the TPP tariff cut increase the U.S. share of Japan’s imported honey market relative to China? And more critically, would any such exports gains in Japan even make up for the increased imports of duty-free Vietnam and Malaysia honey into the United States under the TPP – more import competition in the firm’s main market? 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

ICYMI: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Facts and Figures for SOTU Prep

Eyes on Trade - 12 January, 2016 - 15:27

President Barack Obama is expected to prioritize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in his State of the Union address. The TPP text was finally released in November after seven years of secretive talks during which this Washington Post infographic shows 500 U.S. trade advisors representing corporate interests had special access. Congress, the public and press were shut out. Now everyone can read the controversial deal that could undermine many landmark achievements of Obama’s presidency and thus his legacy on jobs and economic recovery, climate, healthcare access, gay equality, financial reform, the U.S. auto industry rescue and more. Only six of the TPP’s 30 chapters deal with traditional trade matters. As this recent New Yorker piece describes, the rest require limits on food, financial and other regulations, provide drug firms new monopolies and expand the contentious investor-state dispute settlement system.

Zero U.S. Economic Growth from TPP:

The Department of Agriculture issued the administration’s only major study on TPP’s economic impact and found it would result in 0.00% increased U.S. growth if all tariffs on all products were eliminated, which did not occur. The United States already has free trade deals in place with Canada, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Chile, and Singapore, which collectively represent over 80 percent of the trade counted in the oft-touted line about the TPP covering 40 percent of world trade. Even the major pro-TPP study found that in 2025 U.S. growth rates only would be .4 percent higher with TPP in effect - even using a model that assumed full employment and no increased income inequality. Yet, since the 1940s, standard economic theory has held that trade liberalization is likely to increase inequality in developed countries like the United States.

Increased Income Inequality:

A recent study finds the TPP would spell a pay cut for all but the richest 10 percent of Americans by exacerbating income inequality, as past trade deals have done. That would contradict Obama’s 2015 SOTU inequality reduction goal. Macroeconomic theory predicts if Americans face more competition from workers in Vietnam who make less than 65 cents/hour, wages will be pushed down. Sixty percent of manufacturing workers losing jobs to trade who find reemployment face pay cuts, with one in three losing more than 20 percent, per U.S. DoL data. There is academic consensus trade has contributed to the major rise in inequality.

American Jobs at Risk:

The TPP includes rules that make it cheaper and less risky to offshore U.S. jobs to low wage nations. The pro-free trade Cato Institute calls these investor protections a subsidy on offshoring. The administration stopped claiming the TPP would create jobs after a four Pinocchio rating by the Washington Post fact checker. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), more than 57,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities have closed and five million U.S. manufacturing jobs–one in four–were lost with more than 875,000 U.S. workers certified under just one narrow U.S. Department of Labor program.

Export Claims:

Obama’s most recent free trade agreement (FTA) served as the TPP’s template and also was sold as a way to create “more exports, more jobs.” Three years into the U.S.-Korea Free FTA, the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea was up more than 90 percent as exports fell 7 percent and imports surged. The United States ran a $177.5 billion goods trade deficit, with its 20 FTA partners in 2014, the last year data is available. The growth rate of exports FTA partners has been 20 percent lower than U.S. exports to the rest of the world the last decade. In his 2010 SOTU, Obama said he would double exports in five years. But given our paltry annual export growth rate, the export-doubling goal would not be reached until 2057 – 43 years behind schedule.

The TPP=18,000 Tax Cuts Red Herring:

In the face of the Korea FTA’s flop, the administration has tried to shift focus to a “tax cut” narrative to sell the TPP with a mantra about 18,000 tax cuts for U.S. exported goods. But last year, the U.S. only exported goods in less than half of the 18,000 tariff categories. By using the raw number of tariff lines cut with respect to the five nations with which we do not already have FTAs (Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei), the administration distracts from the real question: does 18,000 tariff cuts equate to more U.S. exports or jobs? For the nearly 7,500 categories of goods out of the claimed 18,000 for which we did sell anything, almost 50 percent had sales under $500,000. Many items we simply do not sell, including those that the administration claims the TPP’s weak environmental chapter will help conserve. Among the 18,000 tax cuts are Malaysia’s shark fin tariffs, Vietnam’s whale meat tariffs, and Japan’s ivory tariffs. The administration’s “TPP Guide to 18,000 Tax Cuts” document also bizarrely highlights goods TPP nations simply do not buy in volume from anyone. Consider the 34 percent “tax” cut by Vietnam on Alaskan caviar. In 2014, Vietnam’s per capita GDP was about $2,000 and about $150,000 worth of caviar was imported by Vietnam from anywhere. Or Vietnam’s 5 percent tariff on skis from Colorado. Vietnam only imported about $50,000 in skis in total. Other highlights: Vietnam and Japan will eliminate their tariffs on silkworm cocoons, Brunei will cut its tariff on ski boots, and Vietnam will eliminate its tariff on camels. Almost 2,000 of the tariff reductions in the products we do sell won’t be realized for over a decade or more, including beef and pork to Japan.

China Claims in TPP Sales Pitch -Foreign Policy Arguments Mimic False Claims Made for Past Pacts:

Whenever the economic case for a trade deal falls flat, presidents try to change the subject to the putative foreign policy imperatives, as Obama has done. The notion that TPP is a bulwark against China is absurd, if only because China has been invited to join. Administration officials say China can only join only if it agrees to TPP rules. But those rules would give Chinese products duty-free U.S. access, and the new TPP foreign investor rights would enhance China’s relative economic might within the United States. This may explain China’s statements of increased interest in joining the TPP. While U.S. concerns about the implications of China’s rising economic power and influence are legitimate, the notion that the establishment – or not – of any specific U.S. trade agreement would control this process is contradicted by the record. We were warned that unless NAFTA and free trade deals with eight Latin American nations were enacted, China would write the rules and grab our trade in the hemisphere. NAFTA went into effect and in its first 20 years, the U.S. share of goods imported to Mexico dropped from 70 percent to under 50 percent while China’s share rose more than 2,600 percent. After U.S. FTAs with eight other Latin American nations were enacted, China’s exports to Latin America soared more than 1,280 percent from $10.5 billion to more than $145 billion, while the U.S. saw only modest export growth. The U.S. share of Latin America’s imported goods fell 36 percent while China’s share increased 575 percent since the various U.S. FTAs were enacted.

TPP Is Not About the U.S. Writing the Rules Versus China Doing So - TPP’s Rules Are Those Demanded by its 500 Official Corporate Trade Advisors:

Trying to paint TPP as a way for America to write the rules in Asia so that China does not is a misdirect. TPP is not about establishing “American” rules in Asia. It’s about imposing rules that are favored by the 500 official U.S. corporate trade advisors who had a privileged role in developing the TPP. The TPP rules promote more U.S. job offshoring and would further gut the U.S. manufacturing base, even as a recent Department of Defense report warned that U.S. deindustrialization poses a threat to national security. TPP would ban the application of Buy America procurement preferences with respect to all firms operating in TPP countries. Instead of reinvesting our tax dollars at home to build a strong national infrastructure and create economic growth and jobs at home, TPP would require us to give firms from the TPP nations, including Chinese state-owned-enterprise firms operating in Vietnam, equal access to U.S. government contracts. TPP also would raise our energy prices and undermine our energy independence given we could no longer halt liquid natural gas exports to TPP nations, including major LNG purchaser Japan. TPP’s expanded patent and copyright monopolies would raise American health care costs and thwart innovation. And, even if you believe that TPP actually is about writing rules aimed at affecting China, who in their right mind believes that China would actually abide by those rules or that the U.S. would enforce them effectively? Fifteen years after China joined the WTO, we’re still waiting for China to comply with the commitments they made. And, we are still waiting for any U.S. administration to broadly and effectively enforce U.S. rights.

The TPP Rolls Back National Security Language Included in Past Pacts:

The TPP eliminates language included in past U.S. trade pacts that explicitly authorized the United States to take action to protect its own national security interests regardless of whether any such action or policy violated trade pact rules and to do so without facing trade sanctions. And, while other TPP nations safeguarded their domestic national security review processes for foreign investors, the United States did not take an exception to TPP rules that grant foreign investors new rights to acquire land, firms, natural resource concessions, infrastructure or other investments and operate them. Thus, even if the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) opposed on national security grounds a U.S. acquisition by a firm also operating in a TPP country, if that investment was stopped the foreign firm could drag the U.S. government before an extrajudicial investor-state tribunal and demand taxpayer compensation.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – Environment and Climate:

The environmental groups that have celebrated Obama’s achievements with the global climate treaty and his decision to the stop the XL Pipeline call the TPP an act of “climate denial.” The pact would roll back the environmental standards that President George W. Bush was pressured into including in his trade deals. Indeed, in a recent Newsweek oped, the Cato Institute celebrated the TPP’s watered down environmental terms. Environmental groups listed on the White House website as supporting the deal, including NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife, in fact came out in opposition after seeing the final text.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – Healthcare Costs:

The TPP would directly contradict Obama efforts to reduce U.S. healthcare costs by expanding monopoly patent protections for big drug firms, as Doctors Without Borders notes. This allows drug firms to stop competition and raise medicine prices. As seniors groups note, the TPP would also empowering large drug firms to meddle in U.S. government reimbursement decisions for taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – American Auto Sector Rescue:

The TPP would threaten the president’s successful rescue of the U.S. auto industry and thousands of U.S. jobs. It would allow vehicles comprised mainly of Chinese and other non-TPP country parts and labor to gain duty free access. This would gut the rules of origin established in NAFTA that condition duty free access on 62.5 percent of value being from NAFTA countries. Ford has supported all past U.S. trade deals, but opposes the TPP.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – Gay Rights:

While the Obama administration is celebrated for its defense of gay equality after dust-binned the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and joining those announcing that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, it decided to allow Brunei to remain in the TPP even after the country announced that it would begin stoning to death gays and single mothers under new sharia-based laws. This has led to LGBTQ groups joining the TPP opposition.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – Financial Reform:

The TPP could help banks unravel the new rules Obama achieved on Wall Street by prohibiting bans on risky financial products and “too big to fail” safeguards while empowering foreign banks to “sue” the U.S. government over new financial regulations. For the first time, the TPP would expand the controversial investor-state dispute system (ISDS) to allow challenges of U.S. financial policies using the claim underlying most successful ISDS attacks.

Claims about Small Business Gains Contradicted by Record:

The administration claims that small business will be the greatest beneficiaries of the TPP. But the reason small and medium enterprises (defined as 500 employees or less) comprise most U.S. exporting firms is simply because they constitute 99.7 percent of U.S. firms overall. But only 3 percent of U.S. small and medium enterprises export any good to any country. In contrast, 38 percent of large U.S. firms are exporters. Even if FTAs actually succeeded in boosting exports (which they don’t, per the data noted above), exporting is primarily the domain of large corporations, not small businesses. As for whether as the administration claims “with these trade agreements we can create more opportunities” for small firms, the record of past FTAs suggests not. Under the Korea FTA, U.S. small businesses have seen their exports to Korea decline even more sharply than large firms (a 14 percent vs. 3 percent downfall in the first year of the FTA). Small businesses’ exports to all non-NAFTA countries grew over 50 percent more than their exports to Canada and Mexico (74 percent vs. 47 percent) during a 1996-2012 window of data availability. The sluggish export growth owes in part to the fact that small businesses’ exports grew less than half as much as large firms’ exports to NAFTA partners (47 percent vs. 97 percent from 1996-2012). Small businesses’ share of U.S. exports has declined, while U.S. export growth to countries that are not FTA partners has exceeded U.S. export growth to FTA partners by 30 percent over the past decade. 

 

 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

ICYMI: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Facts and Figures for SOTU Prep

Eyes on Trade - 12 January, 2016 - 15:27

President Barack Obama is expected to prioritize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in his State of the Union address. The TPP text was finally released in November after seven years of secretive talks during which this Washington Post infographic shows 500 U.S. trade advisors representing corporate interests had special access. Congress, the public and press were shut out. Now everyone can read the controversial deal that could undermine many landmark achievements of Obama’s presidency and thus his legacy on jobs and economic recovery, climate, healthcare access, gay equality, financial reform, the U.S. auto industry rescue and more. Only six of the TPP’s 30 chapters deal with traditional trade matters. As this recent New Yorker piece describes, the rest require limits on food, financial and other regulations, provide drug firms new monopolies and expand the contentious investor-state dispute settlement system.

Zero U.S. Economic Growth from TPP:

The Department of Agriculture issued the administration’s only major study on TPP’s economic impact and found it would result in 0.00% increased U.S. growth if all tariffs on all products were eliminated, which did not occur. The United States already has free trade deals in place with Canada, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Chile, and Singapore, which collectively represent over 80 percent of the trade counted in the oft-touted line about the TPP covering 40 percent of world trade. Even the major pro-TPP study found that in 2025 U.S. growth rates only would be .4 percent higher with TPP in effect - even using a model that assumed full employment and no increased income inequality. Yet, since the 1940s, standard economic theory has held that trade liberalization is likely to increase inequality in developed countries like the United States.

Increased Income Inequality:

A recent study finds the TPP would spell a pay cut for all but the richest 10 percent of Americans by exacerbating income inequality, as past trade deals have done. That would contradict Obama’s 2015 SOTU inequality reduction goal. Macroeconomic theory predicts if Americans face more competition from workers in Vietnam who make less than 65 cents/hour, wages will be pushed down. Sixty percent of manufacturing workers losing jobs to trade who find reemployment face pay cuts, with one in three losing more than 20 percent, per U.S. DoL data. There is academic consensus trade has contributed to the major rise in inequality.

American Jobs at Risk:

The TPP includes rules that make it cheaper and less risky to offshore U.S. jobs to low wage nations. The pro-free trade Cato Institute calls these investor protections a subsidy on offshoring. The administration stopped claiming the TPP would create jobs after a four Pinocchio rating by the Washington Post fact checker. Since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), more than 57,000 U.S. manufacturing facilities have closed and five million U.S. manufacturing jobs–one in four–were lost with more than 875,000 U.S. workers certified under just one narrow U.S. Department of Labor program.

Export Claims:

Obama’s most recent free trade agreement (FTA) served as the TPP’s template and also was sold as a way to create “more exports, more jobs.” Three years into the U.S.-Korea Free FTA, the U.S. goods trade deficit with Korea was up more than 90 percent as exports fell 7 percent and imports surged. The United States ran a $177.5 billion goods trade deficit, with its 20 FTA partners in 2014, the last year data is available. The growth rate of exports FTA partners has been 20 percent lower than U.S. exports to the rest of the world the last decade. In his 2010 SOTU, Obama said he would double exports in five years. But given our paltry annual export growth rate, the export-doubling goal would not be reached until 2057 – 43 years behind schedule.

The TPP=18,000 Tax Cuts Red Herring:

In the face of the Korea FTA’s flop, the administration has tried to shift focus to a “tax cut” narrative to sell the TPP with a mantra about 18,000 tax cuts for U.S. exported goods. But last year, the U.S. only exported goods in less than half of the 18,000 tariff categories. By using the raw number of tariff lines cut with respect to the five nations with which we do not already have FTAs (Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei), the administration distracts from the real question: does 18,000 tariff cuts equate to more U.S. exports or jobs? For the nearly 7,500 categories of goods out of the claimed 18,000 for which we did sell anything, almost 50 percent had sales under $500,000. Many items we simply do not sell, including those that the administration claims the TPP’s weak environmental chapter will help conserve. Among the 18,000 tax cuts are Malaysia’s shark fin tariffs, Vietnam’s whale meat tariffs, and Japan’s ivory tariffs. The administration’s “TPP Guide to 18,000 Tax Cuts” document also bizarrely highlights goods TPP nations simply do not buy in volume from anyone. Consider the 34 percent “tax” cut by Vietnam on Alaskan caviar. In 2014, Vietnam’s per capita GDP was about $2,000 and about $150,000 worth of caviar was imported by Vietnam from anywhere. Or Vietnam’s 5 percent tariff on skis from Colorado. Vietnam only imported about $50,000 in skis in total. Other highlights: Vietnam and Japan will eliminate their tariffs on silkworm cocoons, Brunei will cut its tariff on ski boots, and Vietnam will eliminate its tariff on camels. Almost 2,000 of the tariff reductions in the products we do sell won’t be realized for over a decade or more, including beef and pork to Japan.

China Claims in TPP Sales Pitch -Foreign Policy Arguments Mimic False Claims Made for Past Pacts:

Whenever the economic case for a trade deal falls flat, presidents try to change the subject to the putative foreign policy imperatives, as Obama has done. The notion that TPP is a bulwark against China is absurd, if only because China has been invited to join. Administration officials say China can only join only if it agrees to TPP rules. But those rules would give Chinese products duty-free U.S. access, and the new TPP foreign investor rights would enhance China’s relative economic might within the United States. This may explain China’s statements of increased interest in joining the TPP. While U.S. concerns about the implications of China’s rising economic power and influence are legitimate, the notion that the establishment – or not – of any specific U.S. trade agreement would control this process is contradicted by the record. We were warned that unless NAFTA and free trade deals with eight Latin American nations were enacted, China would write the rules and grab our trade in the hemisphere. NAFTA went into effect and in its first 20 years, the U.S. share of goods imported to Mexico dropped from 70 percent to under 50 percent while China’s share rose more than 2,600 percent. After U.S. FTAs with eight other Latin American nations were enacted, China’s exports to Latin America soared more than 1,280 percent from $10.5 billion to more than $145 billion, while the U.S. saw only modest export growth. The U.S. share of Latin America’s imported goods fell 36 percent while China’s share increased 575 percent since the various U.S. FTAs were enacted.

TPP Is Not About the U.S. Writing the Rules Versus China Doing So - TPP’s Rules Are Those Demanded by its 500 Official Corporate Trade Advisors:

Trying to paint TPP as a way for America to write the rules in Asia so that China does not is a misdirect. TPP is not about establishing “American” rules in Asia. It’s about imposing rules that are favored by the 500 official U.S. corporate trade advisors who had a privileged role in developing the TPP. The TPP rules promote more U.S. job offshoring and would further gut the U.S. manufacturing base, even as a recent Department of Defense report warned that U.S. deindustrialization poses a threat to national security. TPP would ban the application of Buy America procurement preferences with respect to all firms operating in TPP countries. Instead of reinvesting our tax dollars at home to build a strong national infrastructure and create economic growth and jobs at home, TPP would require us to give firms from the TPP nations, including Chinese state-owned-enterprise firms operating in Vietnam, equal access to U.S. government contracts. TPP also would raise our energy prices and undermine our energy independence given we could no longer halt liquid natural gas exports to TPP nations, including major LNG purchaser Japan. TPP’s expanded patent and copyright monopolies would raise American health care costs and thwart innovation. And, even if you believe that TPP actually is about writing rules aimed at affecting China, who in their right mind believes that China would actually abide by those rules or that the U.S. would enforce them effectively? Fifteen years after China joined the WTO, we’re still waiting for China to comply with the commitments they made. And, we are still waiting for any U.S. administration to broadly and effectively enforce U.S. rights.

The TPP Rolls Back National Security Language Included in Past Pacts:

The TPP eliminates language included in past U.S. trade pacts that explicitly authorized the United States to take action to protect its own national security interests regardless of whether any such action or policy violated trade pact rules and to do so without facing trade sanctions. And, while other TPP nations safeguarded their domestic national security review processes for foreign investors, the United States did not take an exception to TPP rules that grant foreign investors new rights to acquire land, firms, natural resource concessions, infrastructure or other investments and operate them. Thus, even if the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) opposed on national security grounds a U.S. acquisition by a firm also operating in a TPP country, if that investment was stopped the foreign firm could drag the U.S. government before an extrajudicial investor-state tribunal and demand taxpayer compensation.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – Environment and Climate:

The environmental groups that have celebrated Obama’s achievements with the global climate treaty and his decision to the stop the XL Pipeline call the TPP an act of “climate denial.” The pact would roll back the environmental standards that President George W. Bush was pressured into including in his trade deals. Indeed, in a recent Newsweek oped, the Cato Institute celebrated the TPP’s watered down environmental terms. Environmental groups listed on the White House website as supporting the deal, including NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife, in fact came out in opposition after seeing the final text.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – Healthcare Costs:

The TPP would directly contradict Obama efforts to reduce U.S. healthcare costs by expanding monopoly patent protections for big drug firms, as Doctors Without Borders notes. This allows drug firms to stop competition and raise medicine prices. As seniors groups note, the TPP would also empowering large drug firms to meddle in U.S. government reimbursement decisions for taxpayer-funded programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – American Auto Sector Rescue:

The TPP would threaten the president’s successful rescue of the U.S. auto industry and thousands of U.S. jobs. It would allow vehicles comprised mainly of Chinese and other non-TPP country parts and labor to gain duty free access. This would gut the rules of origin established in NAFTA that condition duty free access on 62.5 percent of value being from NAFTA countries. Ford has supported all past U.S. trade deals, but opposes the TPP.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – Gay Rights:

While the Obama administration is celebrated for its defense of gay equality after dust-binned the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and joining those announcing that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, it decided to allow Brunei to remain in the TPP even after the country announced that it would begin stoning to death gays and single mothers under new sharia-based laws. This has led to LGBTQ groups joining the TPP opposition.

The TPP Versus President Obama’s Legacy – Financial Reform:

The TPP could help banks unravel the new rules Obama achieved on Wall Street by prohibiting bans on risky financial products and “too big to fail” safeguards while empowering foreign banks to “sue” the U.S. government over new financial regulations. For the first time, the TPP would expand the controversial investor-state dispute system (ISDS) to allow challenges of U.S. financial policies using the claim underlying most successful ISDS attacks.

Claims about Small Business Gains Contradicted by Record:

The administration claims that small business will be the greatest beneficiaries of the TPP. But the reason small and medium enterprises (defined as 500 employees or less) comprise most U.S. exporting firms is simply because they constitute 99.7 percent of U.S. firms overall. But only 3 percent of U.S. small and medium enterprises export any good to any country. In contrast, 38 percent of large U.S. firms are exporters. Even if FTAs actually succeeded in boosting exports (which they don’t, per the data noted above), exporting is primarily the domain of large corporations, not small businesses. As for whether as the administration claims “with these trade agreements we can create more opportunities” for small firms, the record of past FTAs suggests not. Under the Korea FTA, U.S. small businesses have seen their exports to Korea decline even more sharply than large firms (a 14 percent vs. 3 percent downfall in the first year of the FTA). Small businesses’ exports to all non-NAFTA countries grew over 50 percent more than their exports to Canada and Mexico (74 percent vs. 47 percent) during a 1996-2012 window of data availability. The sluggish export growth owes in part to the fact that small businesses’ exports grew less than half as much as large firms’ exports to NAFTA partners (47 percent vs. 97 percent from 1996-2012). Small businesses’ share of U.S. exports has declined, while U.S. export growth to countries that are not FTA partners has exceeded U.S. export growth to FTA partners by 30 percent over the past decade. 

 

 

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Letter to the USTR on global food security

Language:  English Author(s) (external):  IATP, et al File:  WTO food security Dec11.pdf The Honorable Michael Froman United States Trade Representative 600 17th Street NW Washington, DC 20508   December 11, 2015 Dear Ambassador Froman, While we recognize the complexity of the many issues being negotiated in the lead up to the December 15-18, 2015 Nairobi Ministerial of the World Trade Organization (WTO), as faith, development and food policy organizations, we especially want to weigh in on issues related to global food security. We should learn from the 2008 food price crisis, as well as the persistent rounds of price volatility that have followed. These problems will be exacerbated by climate change, financialization of agricultural commodities, and competing demands...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Lori Wallach on HuffPo: “WTO Orders Sanctions Unless US Cuts Consumer Labels, Disproving Obama TPP Claims”

Eyes on Trade - 8 December, 2015 - 17:15

 

“Yesterday's World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling against the country-of-origin meat labels (COOL) that Americans rely on to make informed choices about their food provides a glaring example of how trade agreements can undermine U.S. public interest policies. The WTO authorized over $1 billion annually in trade sanctions against the United States unless and until the popular consumer policy is weakened or eliminated.

The ruling is a nightmare for the Obama administration's uphill battle to build support for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)."

 

Read the entire piece at the Huffington Post to find out how the WTO’s ruling spells trouble for the TPP.

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Comment on the Proposed Margin Requirements for Uncleared Swaps for Swaps Dealers and Major Swaps Participants

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Dr. Steve Suppan File:  2015_11_24_IATPMarginRuleComment.pdf Christopher KirkpatrickSeptember 14, 2015 Secretary to the Commission Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) (Commission) Three Lafayette Center 1155 21st Street NW Washington, DC 20581 Submitted electronically at http://comments.cftc.gov Comment on the Proposed Margin Requirements for Uncleared Swaps for Swaps Dealers and Major Swaps Participants—Cross Border Application of Margin Requirements: RIN 3039—AC971 Dear Mr. Kirkpatrick, The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)2 appreciates this opportunity to comment on the Commission’s above captioned Proposed Rule. We have not commented on the Commission’s past proposed rules for margining cross-border swaps, a...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Response to the RFI concerning the revision of the Coordinated Framework (CF)

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Dr. Steve Suppan File:  2015_11_24_RevisedCoordinatedFramework.pdf November 13, 2015 National Science and Technology Council Emerging Technologies Interagency Policy Coordination Committee Office of Science and Technology Policy Executive Office of the President Eisenhower Executive Office Building 1650 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, DC 20504 Submitted electronically RE: Docket No. FDA–2015–N–3403 Request for Information: Clarifying Current Roles and Responsibilities Described in the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology and Developing a Long-Term Strategy for the Regulation of the Products of Biotechnology1 The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)2 appreciates this opportunity to respond to the...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Rural Climate Policy Priorities

Subtitle:  Solutions from the Ground Language:  English IATP author(s):  Tara Ritter Author(s) (external):  Rural Climate Network File:  2015_11_25_RuralPolicyPriorities.pdf The intent of this working document is to describe climate change concerns specific to rural communities in the United States and identify policy approaches that are supportive of on-the-ground solutions. It reflects ideas and input from Rural Climate Network member organizations and other rural organizations, leaders and experts in the U.S. This is a starting point; additional input, perspectives and policy solutions are welcomed, as are questions, inquiries and endorsements. For more...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

U.S. rural leaders and advocates release climate change policy priorities

Subtitle:  Rural leaders emphasize resilience and equity as global climate talks begin Language:  English IATP author(s):  Tara Ritter Ben Lilliston File:  2015_12_01_PolicyPriorities.pdf MINNEAPOLIS, MN/PARIS, FRANCE – Rural organizations, leaders and experts in the U.S. outlined the challenges climate change poses to rural communities and a set of policy priorities, “Rural Climate Policy Priorities: Solutions from the Ground,” released today during the first week of global climate talks in Paris. U.S. rural communities are diverse and there is no one-size-fits-all climate solution. Rural America will be disproportionately impacted by climate change. On average,...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Argentina: ganó la derecha

Blog de Javier Echaide - 24 November, 2015 - 03:04
Es la primera vez que la Argentina tiene un presidente conservador en 72 años. Por una exigua diferencia de un 2,8% (poco más de 700.000 votos), Mauricio Macri ha sido elegido por la voluntad popular en el ballotage celebrado en el día de ayer.

El fin de la "Era K"

Eran pocos los que, a las alturas de la 2da vuelta electoral, insistían con una "continuidad del proyecto" más allá del 10 de diciembre. Lo que estaba en juego era la tonalidad del cambio que seguiría: el grado de ese giro que significaría el cambio de gobierno para la Argentina.

Los tres candidatos mejor posicionados en las primarias (Daniel Scioli, Mauricio Macri y Sergio Massa) tenían mayores puntos en común que divergencias, por lo que la "derechización" del gobierno  siguiente era algo evidente (al menos para quien escribe y con quienes he conversado puede atestiguarlo así) desde hacía -cuanto menos- año y medio. Ello significaba que este gobierno tan difícil de clasificar (¿de centro?) llamado kirchnerismo tenía su finalización marcada por el calendario electoral, marcando de ese modo el final de una época.

Algunas lecturas comunes hablan de que el surgimiento del PRO fue el "punto de inflexión" que signoficó el 2008 y la llada entonces "crisis del campo", lo cual resulta en un error ya no de interpretación sino de rigor histórico y de seriedad en los datos. El PRO (en rigor, el partido se llama Propuesta Republicana) fue creado en el año 2005 como fusión de tres partidos: Compromiso por el Cambio -liderado por Mauricio Macri y una escisión del Partido Justicialista de donde él había surgido originalmente y otros partidos menores como el Partido Demócrata Progresista -que varió su denominación a solamente Partido Demócrata-, el partido Recrear para el Cambio -liderado por Ricardo López Murphy y una escisión del radicalismo, de dónde él se había apartado- y del Partido Federal. Todos estos partidos y referentes se alejaron de sus estructuras partidarias originarias -López Murphy sobre todo- por sus discrepancias en cuanto a un alejamiento de las políticas neoliberales del Consenso de Washington, pues más bien abogaban por su mantenimiento, como bien lo demostró López Murphy estando como Ministro de Economía en el gobierno del radical Fernando De La Rúa.

Por su lado, Mauricio Macri inició su carrera política en 2003 fundando un partido propio por fuera del peronismo, movimiento con el que había intentado coquetear, especialmente dentro de sectores afines al menemismo (recordemos que en 2003, Carlos Menem fue el candidato a presidente más votado en la 1ra vuelta con Néstor Kirchner detrás), aunque sin éxito.

Como logro, la creación del PRO, así como la unificación de los Partidos Socialistas (el Democrático y el Popular) en Argentina, fueron las únicas acciones dentro de las estructuras partidarias al simbronazo que fue la crisis que eclosionó el 19 y 20 de diciembre de 2001. En este sentido, la construcción del PRO ha sido más un lento armado de recuperación de los sectores liberales conservadores a dicha crisis que una "reacción espontánea" al kirchnerismo. No ha tenido nada de espontáneo: su planificación fue lenta y se centró en la ciudad de Buenos Aires, en las clases medias y altas, ampliándose luego a ciertos sectores bajos, sobre todo en los últimos dos años.

Ahora el kirchnerismo pasa a un rol desconocido hasta el momento: conservar ciertos resortes institucionales (recordemos que las elecciones legislativas no mostraron demasiados cambios en el Congreso Nacional, donde el kirchnerismo no tendrá mayoría absoluta pero mantendrá la primera minoría) pero sin estar el ejercicio del poder. Conserva un caudal político importante pero que no puede medirse con las elecciones del pasado domingo, y sin dudas que su rol como oposición le significará un desafío.

Qué sale. Qué queda

Di de desafíos hablamos, uno de los principales que el nuevo gobierno de Macri deberá enfrentar es en cuanto al mantenimiento de las políticas sociales logradas por el kirchnerismo. Durante los últimos meses se habló de la "kirchnerización" del discurso de Macri, en el sentido de acercar su línea política a algunas de las medidas tomadas por el gobierno de Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, tal como la Asignación Universal por Hijo (AUH), el matrimonio igualitario, los juicios abiertos contra los represores de la última dictadura militar, la estatización de las AFJP, Aerolíneas Argentinas o de la expropiación del 51% de las acciones de YPF de las manos de la transnacional española Repsol: en todos estos casos Macri ha confirmado que mantendría dichas políticas, aún cuando ha votado en contra de todas ellas al momento de ser tomadas.

La consigna con la que el macrismo se posisionó electoralmente y finalmente accedió al gobierno ayer fue con la consigna del "cambio". Y el mayor cambio que Macri dice encarnar es un cambio en las formas de gobernar. Sin embargo, ¿es realmente sólo en las formas dicho cambio? No. Los principales virajes es posible que provengan de aquello sobre lo que precisamente no se habló durante la campaña: la política exterior y lo que se vincule con los mercados internacionales.

La forma en que Argentina se inserta a dichos mercados está determinada en parte por las condiciones internas, pero también por las decisiones políticas que se toman. Muestra de ello es la falta de ingreso de Argentina a esquemas de integración alternativa a la hegemónica, como el ALBA por ejemplo, durante el propio kirchnerismo (a pesar de la exageración que es la identificación directa con la que la derecha nacional hace de los gobiernos de Cristina y Néstor Kirchner con el chavismo venezolano). Es probable que el no ingreso argentino a dicho eje pueda deberse a la falta de incentivos económicos que los países del ALBA pueden significar para un mercado como el argentino o el brasileño. Pero ello no explica el por qué sí al ingreso de Venezuela al Mercosur. Ello se debe al aporte que la producción venezolana sí hace y sí sirve a los países de nuestro bloque regional en materia energética frente a mercados -precisamente como el argentino y el brasileño- que sí necesitan de esos recursos.

Hoy el flamante presidente electo manifestó su compromiso de presentar un pedido de suspensión de Venezuela del Mercosur, cuestionando la legitimidad democrática en dicho país. La suspensión indefectiblemente impactará no solamente en los derechos de Venezuela sino también en sus obligaciones hacia el bloque... Y eso es algo que evidentemente Macri desconoce o muestra absoluta despreocupación: como si la matríz energética argentina diera de sobra.

Más allá de esto, la "cláusula democrática" que Macri invoca ahora para la suspensión de Venezuela del Mercosur, es la ruptura institucional en un Estado miembro. El Protocolo de Usuhaia de 1998 prevé que, ante un quiebre institucional, pueda suspenderse a un país miembro del bloque. Esa ruptura significa un golpe de Estado, una suplantación irregular del primer mandatario o alguna figura similar. Venezuela no ha tenido un quiebre institucional en dicho sentido, al margen de los enfrentamientos que mutuamente tienen el gobierno de Maduro con los medios de comunicación y la oposición. En lo jurídico, asimilar lo ocurrido en Paraguay (un cambio irregular en el mandato presidencial en 2012) con un "golpe de Estado" no ocurrido en Venezuela es desafiar la imaginación. En lo político tampoco esto tiene demasiado asidero: las decisiones en el Mercosur se toman por consenso. Un voto de apoyo por parte de países como Brasil y Uruguay al deseo de Macri sería algo francamente descabellado.

Un TLC con la UE y un ingreso a Acuerdo Transpacífico (desde el Atlántico)

Pero lo que sí no resulta descabellado es la política exterior que depende de la decisión unilateral del gobierno electo.

Se ha hablado mucho del "alineamiento político" al eje de Chávez, lo cual es algo a relativizar, aunque sí se ha marcado un modo en que la región sudamericana se ha autoidentificado frente al mundo. El rechazo de las políticas librecambistas del ALCA tuvo dos motivos: uno político y otro económico. Van de la mano y un cambio en la decisión política no irá acompañada de resultados económicos que la avalen, puesto que el simple "sí" de la Argentina al ingreso a la Alianza del Pacífico o del TLC con la Unión Europea (ambas mencionadas hoy como posibles medidas a tomar por el gobierno macrista) no alterará la división internacional del trabajo a la que Argentina se encuentra inserta: las políticas de libre comercio para un país como el nuestro implican una especialización de la economía en base a la exportación de commodities, los cuales históricamente tienen un precio tendiente a la baja en el largo plazo. Y el kirchnerismo lo supo a la fuerza, creyendo que el crecimiento "a tasas chinas" había llegado para quedarse con tasas de crecimiento al 8 y 9% por el aumento de exportaciones en base a la compra de soja por el ingreso de China al mecado mundial. Lo curioso fue que, en ese campo, el gobierno kirchnerista, caracterizado por la intervención económica, impulsó las fuerzas del mercado que profundizaron la "sojización" de la tierra y la primarización de la economía, y dedicó el proceso de industrialización al reemplazo de bienes en el mercado interno, pero no a una real industrialización. ¿Que es caro industrializarse? Sin dudas. Pero si no se impulsó con creimientos de 8 y 9%, resulta una ocurrencia pretender hacerlo cuando se está con dichos valores al 1 o 2% anual.

En este contexto, apostar por una incersión global como país agroexportador (teniendo además la matríz agroexportadora fuertemente extranjerizada) torna mucho más dependiente a un país como el nuestro a los intereses de los mercados internacionales. El libre comercio de los TLC conlleva consigo la liberalización del flujo de capitales, lo cual, en una economía como la nuestra, tiende a generar una salida mayor de divisas que su ingreso. Ello significará una extracción de recursos -económicos y naturales- hacia el extranjero. La única forma de sostener dicho modelo es mediante el ingreso de divisas. Se invoca generalmente el incentivo a la llegada de inversiones extranjeras. El neoliberalismo lo hizo mediante el proceso de privatizaciones: el Estado dejó la gestión de servicios públicos en manos de privados extranjeros que en su mayoría resultaron relativamente innovadores en el corto plazo pero retacearon inversiones comprometidas, aportaron tecnologías atrasadas y transfierieron los costos de sus producciones en las matrices a las filiales aquí alojadas (los precios de transferencia son un claro ejemplo de ello). En un marco internacional de crisis económica, abrirse en estos términos es una invitación a que dicha crisis llegue a nuestras casas con toda su fuerza.

A ello se suma el entramado de protección de inversiones que Argentina no ha tocado un ápice en 20 años. Nuestro país posee 58 tratados bilaterales de protección de inversiones (TBI) -56 vigentes- que no son mas que copias resumidas de lo que era el Capítulo de Inversiones del ALCA. Estos TBI habilitan (en rigor establecen el ius standi necesario) para que los inversionistas planteen demandas arbitrales en el CIADI, del Banco Mundial. Argentina es el país más demandado en el mundo en el CIADI por estas cuestiones. Probado está, a 20 años de haber sido celebrados, que los TBI no atrajeron inversiones (la UNCTAD, antigua promotora de estos tratados, es quien ha presentado informes con estos datos en 2009), pero las privatizaciones sí. Un ingreso de capitales en una economía abierta, altamente extranjerizada y con esta red de "contención jurídica" es nada menos que una bomba de tiempo para las cuentas públicas: actualmente Argentina tiene comprometido más del 25% de su presupuesto anual en demandas en el CIADI (probablemente más a raíz de las dificultades en la medición de cuentas y la transparencia de datos tanto de la administración pública como del organismo del CIADI), las cuales no serán tan sencillas de pagar "contante y sonante" como Macri ha manifestado hacer con la demanda de los fondos buitres.

El "voto en blanco" de la izquierda

En la caza de chivos expiatorios, mucho se especuló sobre la (errada o acertada, dependerá del lector) decisión de la izquierda de optar por el voto en blanco para el ballotage. Con los resultados sobre la mesa, las acusaciones por parte del kirchnerismo sobre dicha decisión no se hicieron esperar. Pero ello resulta no sólo no ser original, sino además un grave error.

El Frente de Izquierda (FIT) alcanzó casi los 4 millones de votos hace un mes. La diferencia de Macri con Scioli fue de 700.000 votos. Si se hace una lectura a modo muy grosero, lo dicho significa que solamente el 17,5% de los votos del FIT efectivamente votaron en blanco siguiendo "la línea del partido", lo que deja en un manto crítico sobre la capacidad que esa izquierda posee sobre sus propios votos. También evidencia la falta de asidero de la crítica del kirchnerismo (como de la poca autocrítica propia): la elección, si se perdió (como si el adversario tuviera absolutamente ningún acierto en su campaña), se perdió por causas propias, no ajenas.

La izquierda que jugó fuerte por el voto en blanco, por su parte, perdió en grande. Del lado del FIT o del lado de la centroizquierda de Margarita Stolbizer (algunas de sus agrupaciones aliadas llamaron al voto en blanco, mas no ella, que manifestó su apoyo al macrismo). Demostró falta de organicidad y una atomización pocas veces vista, aunque otra posible lectura pueda ser que ese sector del electorado está altamente capacitado para tomar sus propias decisiones por fuera de las estructuras partidarias. Así, esa izquierda que muchas veces hace gala de su nivel de organización, en esta oportunidad hizo agua y se notó: el 82,5% de su electorado eligió seguir sus propias convicciones y optó, haciendo caso omiso a los llamados partidarios.

Se abren con ello reflexiones sobre qué caracteriza al votante en la actualidad, mucho más cerca del ciudadano individual que de la organicidad partidaria (y en eso, la apelación del PRO a ese elector atomizado haya sido unos de sus principales aciertos). El desafío de Scioli (un andidato corrido a la centroderecha) era atraer a un voto de izquierda que le huía. Esos 4 millones de votos no habrían de sumarse al PRO por cuestioens ideológicas, pero tampoco significaba que se sumaran automáticamente a las filas del kirchnerismo que los relegó. Había, pues, que salir a buscar ese voto. La "militancia de a pie" lo entendió, aunque no todos lo hicieron así.

La opción para ello (y lo advertimos oportunamente) podía ser en hacer hincapié en las propuestas: un programa progresista que incorporase algunas críticas al kirchnerismo (lo cual podía tensar su relación interna, pero con un gobierno saliente y con unas bases desesperadas por un triunfo electoral) en materia de políticas concretas sobre las que están abiertamente interesados -megaminería, organismos transgénicos, recursos naturales, protección de inversiones, trabajo, distribución del ingreso, participación en las ganancias, derechos de género, libertad y educación sexual, aborto, propiedad indígena, etc.- Se vio muy poco (o nada) de eso en las últimas semanas antes del ballotage. De hecho, el macrismo se les adelantó al visitar la carpa que desde hace gran cantidad de meses mantienen apostada en Av. 9 de Julio y Av. de Mayo los representantes del pueblo indígena qom, provenientes del Chaco y Formosa (provincias donde paradójicamente el kirchnerismo ganó -ver mapa-). Macri salió de esa reunión con una carta compromiso formada y fotografías en todos los periódicos. No hubo reacción desde el oficialismo...

Una nueva derecha

Un argumento simplista es caracterizar a la izquierda como dividida, como si la derecha no tampoco lo estuviera. Hay más internacionales partidarias de derecha que de izquierda, y hay más partidos de tendencia ideológica de derechas que de izquierdas. Sin embargo, la "división" parece ser sólo propiedad de estos últimos...

Lo cierto es que ni la izquierda ni la derecha son patrimonio de un solo partido, y ni siquiera de la estructura de partidos políticos. Tampoco hay "una sola izquierda" como no hay "una sola derecha": hay variedades tanto dentro del marxismo como del liberalismo. Y eso también se expresa en elecciones. Sin ir más lejos, las opciones mejor posisionadas en la 1ra vuelta eran tres versiones de derechas distintas, alguna más corrida al centro que otra. La derecha de Macri es una derecha "amoldada": ha aprendido de los partidos catch all norteamericanos la facultad de acomodar sus plataformas electorales a las encuestas de opinión, relegando al olvido sus programas políticos o vaciándolos por completo de contenidos. Los esquemas partidariso europeos, clásicos, han perdido terreno frente a estos nuevos perfiles mucho más flexibles, dúctiles e indefinidos, mejor adaptados para pasar de ser una representación de la agenda de la derecha organizada a una afiliación "a la paz, al amor y a la felicidad" en menos de un año. El electorado es tratado individualmente e interpelado en esa individualidad ("en todo estás VOS", es el slogan del Gobierno de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, dirigido por el PRO desde hace 8 años) con mensajes que se acercan más a un producto publicitario de una marca de gaseosas que a un proyecto político, pero que no obstante encuentran un público atraído por esa interpelación diferente, más sincera, menos acartonada que acostumbran los "políticos de raza".

Esa nueva derecha no está sola, ya que el PRO argentino no es la única expresión. Sectores en Venezuela, Chile, en parte Brasil, también ensayan esta nueva habilidad de amoldarse a las demandas individuales. Esa es una posible derecha nueva en la región a la que habrá que prestar atención, pues es una nueva expresión del tiempo que viene.

Juan José Castelli, "la voz de la Revolución de Mayo" de 1810, expresó en sus últimas palabras tan tristes ante el avance de los contrarrevolucionarios en 1812: "Si ves al futuro, decile que no venga..." Otro gran vocero de la cultura popular, esta vez de la música moderna, el "Indio" Solari, bien podría ilustrarnos completando esa frase con otra, de sus canciones, diciendo: "El futuro llegó... hace rato".
Categories: Planet Not For Sale

DECLARACIÓN sobre NAMA

Our World Is Not For Sale - 29 April, 2009 - 20:09
Currently accepting signatories:  Accept signatories AttachmentSize OWINFS_NAMA_final_es.zip7.76 KB

DECLARACIÓN sobre NAMA
Red Nuestro Mundo No Está en Venta (OWINFS)

¡No permitamos que la OMC destruya las industrias de los países en desarrollo y subaste nuestros recursos naturales!

Mucha gente sabe que la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC)
abre los mercados de los servicios y la agricultura con efectos
negativos para los agricultores, los servicios públicos y el
medioambiente en todo el mundo. Pero la OMC ahora quiere poner a la
venta el resto del planeta, a través de un nuevo acuerdo sobre Acceso a
los Mercados para los Productos No Agrícolas (conocido como NAMA por su
sigla en inglés) que se está negociando actualmente como parte de la
‘Ronda Doha’ de negociaciones comerciales, y mediante el cual los
gobiernos pretenden liberalizar todos los sectores restantes de la vida económica de nuestras sociedades.

El acuerdo NAMA contiene propuestas que restringirían severamente
la capacidad de los gobiernos para ejecutar políticas nacionales de
interés público y por el bien común, incluso políticas diseñadas para
apoyar a los productores de los países del Sur generalmente más débiles
y de menor porte. También podría obligar a los países que aplican los
aranceles más altos (es decir, la mayoría de los países en desarrollo)
a realizar los recortes más profundos y los mayores compromisos, aun
cuando eso podría debilitar a industrias y sectores económicos clave en
esos países. Si a esto se le suma el hecho que la OMC efectivamente
‘encierra’ sin salida a los países mediante estos acuerdos de libre
comercio, queda muy claro que el NAMA representa una amenaza muy grande
para los países que ya están bregando por desarrollar sus economías y
sortear la carga injusta e insostenible de la deuda externa.

Nosotros, las organizaciones abajo firmantes, estamos unidos en
oposición a este nuevo intento de abrir mercados para beneficio de las
empresas transnacionales y a costa de la pequeña y mediana industria y
productores, las economías y culturas locales y el medioambiente. Hay
que frenar las propuestas de NAMA y llevar a cabo estudios exhaustivos
sobre los potenciales efectos sociales, ambientales, sobre el empleo y
en materia de desarrollo y equidad de género.

Por eso exhortamos a los gobiernos a:

  • Detener las negociaciones sobre el NAMA y acordar al
    realización de una revisión exhaustiva e independiente acerca de los
    efectos potenciales del NAMA para el desarrollo económico, la
    diversificación productiva industrial de los países en desarrollo, el
    medioambiente y el bienestar social (incluidos empleo, salud y equidad
    de género);
  • Reconocer y garantizar el espacio político
    necesario y las flexibilidades con que deben contar los gobiernos,
    preservando su derecho a emplear herramientas políticas, incluso
    medidas comerciales cuyo fin sea generar economías justas y
    sustentables, proteger y promover el empleo, el bienestar social, la
    salud y el medioambiente al tiempo que se garantiza la participación de
    la ciudadanía;
  • Fomentar la conservación y el manejo
    sustentable de los recursos naturales incluso mediante la decisión de
    frenar la liberalización del comercio de bienes tales como los bosques,
    los peces, el petróleo, el gas, los metales y los minerales.  

Efectos del NAMA en la industria y el desempleo de los países en desarrollo

  • El recorte general y acelerado de los aranceles de
    importación y otras medidas propuestas en el marco del acuerdo sobre el
    NAMA amenazan con impedir la industrialización de los países en
    desarrollo, a los cuales no se les permitiría proteger a sus
    vulnerables industrias locales contra la competencia de  grandes
    empresas extranjeras transnacionales que pueden producir masivamente
    grandes cantidades de productos baratos (siendo que los países hoy
    industrializados emplearon frugalmente medidas de comercio cuando sus
    propias industrias nacionales necesitaban ese tipo de apoyo para
    desarrollarse).
  • El cierre  de industrias y pequeños
    talleres locales como consecuencia de la presión que suponen las
    importaciones a precios más bajos llevaría a incrementar el desempleo.
    La liberalización del comercio impuesta por el FMI-Banco Mundial 
    mediante sus programas de ajuste estructural ya tuvo efectos
    desastrosos para el empleo en África, Asia y algunos países de América
    Latina.
  • Combinada con la des-industrialización, la
    liberalización de los recursos naturales prevista por el NAMA (que
    incluiría la pesca, la minería y los bosques y la silvicultura) también
    podría empujar a los países a una mayor dependencia de la exportación
    de materias primas que generan relativamente pocas ganancias, en lugar
    de contribuir a la diversificación de sus economías.  Cualquier aumento
    del volumen de captura en la pesca sería especialmente dañino, ya que
    conduciría a índices crecientes de desempleo, pobreza y desnutrición
    para los miles de millones de personas que dependen de los recursos
    marinos para su alimentación y sustento.
  • Los países en
    desarrollo también se verían privados de los ingresos que hoy perciben
    por concepto de aranceles comerciales (impuestos aduaneros). Esto es de
    importancia capital, ya que muchos de esos gobiernos dependen en buena
    medida de esos ingresos para costear servicios sociales esenciales.
  • El acuerdo sobre el NAMA empujaría asimismo a los países en desarrollo
    a una situación en la que tendrían que importar más, al mismo tiempo
    que exportarían menos a consecuencia de la des-industrialización,
    generándoles así crecientes déficit comercial y un deterioro sostenido
    de su balanza externa de pagos.

Explotación creciente de recursos naturales

Las negociaciones sobre el NAMA representan una seria amenaza
general al medioambiente, y la mayoría de los países ignoran los
efectos ambientales y sociales adversos que supondría potencialmente la
liberalización del comercio en materias primas. Todos los
recursos naturales están incluidos en las negociaciones del NAMA –y
algunos sectores como la pesca y la minería de oro, de diamantes y
aluminio incluso están propuestos para su liberalización completa.

  • La liberalización creciente de las materias primas podría
    conllevar mayor explotación y comercio de recursos naturales escasos, y
    privar a los gobiernos de su capacidad para emplear medidas comerciales
    a fin de administrar sus reservas de manera sustentable y por el bien
    común.
  • El acuerdo sobre el NAMA podría restringir el uso
    de aranceles u otras herramientas comerciales en manos de los gobiernos
    para preservar los medios de sustento de millones de pescadores
    artesanales en todo el mundo y garantizar que los pueblos de los países
    en desarrollo puedan seguir contando con la pesca como fuente
    importante de proteínas.
  • Los gobiernos tendrían menos
    espacio para utilizar medidas comerciales con el fin de proteger
    poblaciones de peces en peligro de extinción. Al mismo tiempo, la
    liberalización del comercio podría fortalecer aún más a las industrias
    de procesamiento de pescado y acuicultura, sin tener en cuenta los
    impactos sobre los derechos humanos y la contaminación de los ambientes
    costeros.

Leyes nacionales y espacio para la formulación de políticas en riesgo

Muchos gobiernos están usando el acuerdo sobre el NAMA y otras
negociaciones en el seno de la OMC para atacar legítimas normas no
comerciales de protección del medioambiente, el bienestar social y la
salud en todas partes. Ellos sostienen que estas llamadas “barreras al
comercio” obstruyen de algún modo las exportaciones de las empresas
transnacionales. Hay leyes sobre alimentos y medicinas, pesca, madera y
petróleo, eficiencia energética, pruebas químicas, reciclaje y normas
de calidad de las industrias electrónica y automotriz que han sido
colocadas en la lista como parte de las negociaciones de NAMA,
aparentemente por orden directa de las empresas que seguramente se
beneficiarán con su eliminación. Este ataque concertado a las
reglamentaciones hace caso omiso de la necesidad de utilizar normas
legales para proteger y promover la salud y bienestar de la ciudadanía,
conservar los recursos naturales y frenar el cambio climático.

Conclusiones 

Las negociaciones sobre el NAMA se están llevando a un ritmo tan
veloz que impide la participación efectiva de los gobiernos con menos
recursos y personal, y más aún que estos realicen los estudios
necesarios sobre el impacto potencial de un nuevo acuerdo de NAMA en
sus economías, los trabajadores y el medioambiente. Aun cuando los
Países Menos Adelantados disponen de algunas exoneraciones limitadas en
la actual ronda de negociaciones, ellas no son suficientes para
garantizar su desarrollo futuro.

En realidad, lo que se pretende imponer ahora es exactamente
contrapuesto al acuerdo para el “desarrollo” que  le vendieron a los
países en desarrollo en la Conferencia Ministerial de la OMC en Doha en
2001. En esa reunión, a los países en desarrollo se les prometió que no
tendrían que ceder tanto como los países más ricos. Pero en las
negociaciones actuales sobre el NAMA se les está exigiendo realizar
mayores “ajustes” y adaptaciones que a los países altamente
industrializados, y tomar riesgos mucho mayores respecto de su
producción actual y sus perspectivas futuras de desarrollo. Los
ministros de comercio de los países del África, el Caribe y el Pacífico
(ACP) ya han expresado claramente que les “preocupa que las
propuestas contenidas en el texto de Derbez y su anexo sobre [los
textos de negociación de] el NAMA … profundizarán aún más la crisis de
la des-industrialización y acentuarán el desempleo y la crisis de la
pobreza en nuestros países
”. Sin embargo, a pesar de estas
declaraciones de evidente preocupación, sus puntos de vista han sido
descaradamente ignorados por los países industrializados y los
responsables de forzar el avance de estas propuestas extremas. No se
puede permitir que esta situación continúe.  Por eso exhortamos a los
gobiernos a:

  • Detener las negociaciones sobre el NAMA y acordar al
    realización de una revisión exhaustiva e independiente acerca de los
    efectos potenciales del NAMA para el desarrollo económico, la
    diversificación productiva industrial de los países en desarrollo, el
    medioambiente y el bienestar social (incluidos empleo, salud y equidad
    de género);
  • Reconocer y garantizar el espacio político
    necesario y las flexibilidades con que deben contar los gobiernos,
    preservando su derecho a emplear herramientas políticas, incluso
    medidas comerciales cuyo fin sea generar economías justas y
    sustentables, proteger y promover el empleo, el bienestar social, la
    salud y el medioambiente al tiempo que se garantiza la participación de
    la ciudadanía;
  • Fomentar la conservación y el manejo
    sustentable de los recursos naturales incluso mediante la decisión de
    frenar la liberalización del comercio de bienes tales como los bosques,
    los peces, el petróleo, el gas, los metales y los minerales.
Categories: Planet Not For Sale