by Deirdre Fulton
October 01, 2015
released Wednesday by the Coalition for Better Trade
shows that a clear
majority of voters who can offer
an opinion about the
say they oppose the
Pacific trade deal
hope that if Atlanta round
pro-corporate TPP could be
knocked off track indefinitely
As trade ministers from around the world continued meeting in
Atlanta on Thursday for final-stretch negotiations on the
corporate-friendly Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP),
civil society groups demonstrated on the streets in a final salvo
against a deal they describe as,
"a wholesale auction of our rights,
our freedoms, and our democracy to multinational corporations
who put profits over people."
"They're getting close, but we can stop them," reads the
Citizens Trade Campaign's call-to-action. "If we do, and the
Atlanta round fails, many believe the TPP could be knocked off
High-level officials including Japan's
Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister
Akira Amari and New Zealand
John Key have warned that if
the talks do not wrap up this week, the 12-nation trade agreement
could be put on ice for years.
"The window of opportunity to
complete [the] TPP is closing so you wouldn’t say it’s
impossible to complete the deal if it doesn’t take place in
Atlanta, but it does become more difficult," Key told the Asia
Society in New York this week.
Citing such remarks, organizers of
Thursday's demonstration declare:
"Very rarely do protests have as
much potential for immediate results as this one."
To coincide with Thursday's action,
full-page ad in the local
alt-weekly Creative Loafing slamming the secretive trade
"In a final effort to strike a TPP
deal, companies and governments have once again tried to
organize secret closed-door negotiations to lobby against the
interests of workers all around the world," said Jon Lloyd,
campaign director for SumOfUs.
"All the secrecy means we don't know
the gory details of what it contains, but we do know they're
planning attacks on internet freedom, environmental protections,
and affordable medication and that is unacceptable."
In particular, activists in Atlanta are
highlighting how the TPP could slash access to affordable
As the Japan Times
reports, drug patents, tariffs on automobiles, and market access
for dairy products remain among the "thorny issues" for negotiators.
"U.S. negotiators are pushing for
the TPP to include 12 years of data protection for life-saving
biologics," wrote Marc Perrone, international president of the
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), in a
letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Trade Representative Michael
"This demand puts the profits of big
pharmaceutical companies above the health and welfare of every
American family and effectively risks lives by delaying access
to lower cost generic drugs."
Marc Perrone continued:
"For U.S. negotiators to insist that
the TPP protect these high drug prices rather than the
hard-working Americans who buy them is completely unacceptable."
The AARP, which advocates for people 50
and older, chimed in, with senior legislative representative K.J.
explaining on Thursday that anti-competitive provisions within
the TPP proposal,
"would extend brand drug patent
protections through 'evergreening' drug products that provide
little to no new value."
These intellectual property provisions,
prolong high prescription drug costs for consumers, link
approval to market generic or biosimilar drugs to existing
patents in a way that protects only brand drugs, and increase
data exclusivity periods for biologics that further delays
access by other companies to develop generic versions of these
extremely high-cost drugs," Hertz added.
However, TPP opponents are
quick to point out that even if a deal is reached this week,
Congress will not debate and vote on it until late winter because,
as per the Fast Track legislation
passed earlier this year, President
Barack Obama cannot sign the
deal without giving lawmakers 90 days' notice.
As the New York Times
notes, that timeline would put a TPP vote right,
"in the heat of the states'
presidential nominating contests."
memo to reporters circulated late last week, Public Citizen's
Lori Wallach called that scenario a political "nightmare" - at least
for the corporate forces pushing the pro-corporate trade pact.
"Ten Presidential candidates have
pushed anti-TPP messages in their campaigning, stoking voters'
ire about the pact," Wallach said. "The political costs of an
unpopular 'yes' vote for the TPP would increase with every
passing week in 2016."
Meanwhile, a poll
released Wednesday by the Coalition for Better Trade shows that
a clear majority of voters who can offer an opinion about the
proposed TPP say they oppose the deal.
"Voters are opposed to TPP, and the
Administration and Congress should listen to what they have to
say," said Khristyn Brimmeier, communications director for the
group, which is made up of labor, environmental, and public
health advocacy organizations.
"Rather than continue to push for a
deal based on 25 years of failed policy, the Administration and
Congress should heed the public demand for a trade policy that’s
transparent rather than one developed in secret and at the hand
of global corporations, and one that will keep good jobs at here