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Obama’s TPPA bid to over-ride democracy

Written By: - Date published: 6:47 pm, January 10th, 2014 - 16 comments
Categories: accountability, activism, capitalism, democratic participation, exports, privatisation, same old national, us politics - Tags:

This article on today’s NZ Herald reinforces some of the Jane Kelsey’s statements indicating a bit of a tussle between Congress and Obama’s push to get the TPPA though as soon as possible.

In November, Kelsey stated there was a conflict between the US House of Representatives and Obama’s desire for them to the President ‘fast track authority’.  Some documents released by Wikileaks resulted in a response from Democrats in the House of Representatives.

In a second, stunning blow to the TPPA negotiations, 151 of the 201 Democrat members of the US House of Representatives today released a letter to the President that formally declared their opposition to giving him “fast track authority’. Others may follow.

The letter states ‘we will oppose “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy that continues to exclude us from having a meaningful role in the formative states of trade agreements and throughout negotiating and approval processes.’

Fast track, otherwise known as Trade Promotion Authority, would require Congress to accept the final TPPA deal or reject it, in toto, and not to cherry pick the parts they want and block what they do not like. No major deal has gone through Congress in recent decades without fast track.

On 11 December, Kelsey reported on the continuing tussle as Obama aimed to push through the TPPA negotiations while many people were still in December-January holiday mode.

‘The US behaviour is not surprising’, Kelsey said. ‘What is shocking is that other countries would make major concessions without a firm US market access offer and knowing that Obama cannot guarantee to deliver any deal through the Congress’.

‘Some ministers at the press conference said the deal is contingent on acceptable market access. But they have already put their cards on the table’.

A final piece of hypocrisy in the statement is the promise to ‘further our consultation with stakeholders and engage in our respective political processes’.

The ministers have simply ignored groundswell of condemnation from legislators in the US, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Japan about the secrecy of negotiations and their calls for release of the draft text.

Stakeholders, pro and con the TPPA, have had no formal opportunity to interact with negotiators for the past three negotiating rounds, although most governments have engaged actively with commercial lobbyists.

Today the NZ Herald reports that Obama’s preference for the “fast track” option is still getting opposition in Congress, while talking up the possibility of Obama getting his way.

Legislation key to President Barack Obama’s trade agenda to boost exports to the Asia-Pacific is being welcomed by business, but faces some stiff opposition from Obama’s fellow Democrats.

A bill to grant the president “fast track” authority for negotiating trade deals was introduced Thursday, co-sponsored by a senior Democrat and two key Republicans.

Fast track, which was last approved in 2002 and expired in 2007, assures that the administration can negotiate trade deals that Congress can accept or reject but cannot change.

But while the US members of Congress complaint about the limited amount of say they will have on the TPPA deals, they will have more say than NZ MPs. The NZ PM will only show all MPs the deal once it has been signed.

Five House members from the New Democrat Coalition said the bill made key improvements to the 2002 fast track, and would help in efforts eliminate unfair barriers for American companies.

As if many US companies are at a disadvantage compared with NZ ones, inside and outside NZ.

This important issue should not be allowed to slip under the radar over the summer period.

It’s about democracy and sovereignty: particularly it’s about Kiwis being able to ensure a reasonable life for all New Zealanders.

16 comments on “Obama’s TPPA bid to over-ride democracy”

  1. Pasupial 1


    Thanks so much for this post, I’ve been so wrapped up in gloom inducing facts today that it’s good to get some good news. Even if it is only through the byzantine maze incompetence that is the USAmerican government. If we can change government this year, then there is a chance that we may actually get to see that pig poked in a sack for which we’re prepared to swap our sovereignity.

  2. Chooky 2

    @ Pasupial..is it good news though?…if Obama gets his way it is a blow against democracy and NZer’s interests

    Why is Obama trying to push this through like this?…surely such action goes against everything he is supposed to stand for? ie democracy and fair trading?….and if he succeeds can a Labour Govt rescind the agreement?

    • Macro 2.1

      Why is Obama trying to push this through like this?

      because although a democrat he is only slightly to the left of genghis khan.

  3. Philj 3

    Lol, I like the reference ‘Key improvements’. Haha

  4. greywarbler 4

    No way do we want to hitch ourselves to this holey ship that is the USA. We have problems but TPPA would add to them. Australia, an ally of the USA, and apparently with no commitment to maintain friendly relationships with us, may try and suck us dry. To have the USA take charge of our nation and our decision-making and control our actions at will, would finish us. That would not improve our economy, our way of life, and we would become saturated by USA culture which has become toxic for their own people, as well as whomever they touch.

    There are some good things, great things, to admire in certain states of the USA but what the federal government does outside the country does not inspire admiration. Will we be a new Okinawa? A permanent base for military. It is possible they might envisage this, as they try to maintain dominance in the world, especially China, with whom we are trying to build important trading relationships. The joint military international exercise recently in Timaru was very uncomfortable to view.

    • SpaceMonkey 4.1

      Could be the US (read US corporates) see NZ as a stepping stone to Antarctica and all that unlocked oil, natural gas, and minerals…

  5. infused 5

    It will never pass. No need to worry about it. Look at wiki leak files, nz pushed back hard on it, same as most other countries

  6. Foreign Waka 6

    An Imperialistic approach disguised as a trade agreement covered with movie images and propagated with a hint a a Big Mac. Yeah, they have read the Kiwis like an open book……

  7. joe90 7

    The dunghammer.

    The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a million-ton dunghammer aimed at what’s left of the American middle-class, the dwindling numbers of which ought to be able by now to recognize the taste of “free-trade” snake oil when it’s fed to them. This bill is the worst kind of Beltway Potemkin transparency. It seeks to guarantee that the debate is carefully circumscribed within the parameters in which the Serious People feel most comfortable — one in which a goody-bag for corporate interest supported by Orrin Hatch and Max Baucus is considered to be a “bipartisan” triumph — and making sure that the debate doesn’t disturb the horses or interrupt cocktails on the veranda.


  8. joe90 8

    This too.

    Could there be a connection between the growth of violent, undemocratically imposed, unjust and unfair economic policies and the growth of crimes against women?

    I believe there is.

    Contributions of women

    Firstly, the economic model focusing myopically on “growth” begins with violence against women by discounting their contribution to the economy.

    The more the government talks ad nauseam about “inclusive growth” and “financial inclusion”, the more it excludes the contributions of women to the economy and society. According to patriarchal economic models, production for sustenance is counted as “non-production”. The transformation of value into disvalue, labour into non-labour, knowledge into non-knowledge, is achieved by the most powerful number that rules our lives, the patriarchal construct of GDP, Gross Domestic Product, which commentators have started to call the Gross Domestic Problem.


    • QoT 8.1

      Dr Vandana Shiva is a fucking rock star.

      • Chooky 8.1.1

        joe 90 and QoT…+100 on Dr Vandara Shiva

        ….”the economic model shaped by capitalist patriarchy is based on the commodification of everything, including women.”

        ……”a model of capitalist patriarchy which excludes women’s work and wealth creation in the mind deepens the violence by displacing women from their livelihoods and alienating them from the natural resources on which their livelihoods depend – their land, their forests, their water, their seeds and biodiversity. Economic reforms based on the idea of limitless growth in a limited world can only be maintained by the powerful grabbing the resources of the vulnerable. The resource grab that is essential for “growth” creates a culture of rape – the rape of the earth, of local self-reliant economies, the rape of women. The only way in which this “growth” is “inclusive” is by its inclusion of ever larger numbers in its circle of violence”

        …..”all women who produce for their families, children, community and society are treated as “non-productive” and “economically” inactive. When economies are confined to the market place, economic self-sufficiency is perceived as economic deficiency”

        – See more at: http://2013.onebillionrising.org/blog/entry/introducing-the-obr-article-series-dr.-vandana-shiva-1#sthash.XQ6L9Cbq.dpuf

        • karol

          Oh most excellent link – I have been researching a similar topic. Thank-you, Chooky & joe.

          • Chooky

            karol …you may also be interested in the writings of

            *Susan Griffin ( ‘Women and Nature….’ and ‘Pornography and Silence – Culture’s Revenge Against Nature’)
            * Mary Daly (Gyn/Ecology)
            * Carolyn Merchant ( ‘The Death of Nature -Women, Ecology and the Scientific Revolution’) * Loretta Napoleoni (‘Rogue Economics – Capitalism’s New Reality’)

        • RedBaronCV

          Commodification of women. I can see myself using that phrase, its good. Thanks

  9. adam 9

    Why is Russian TV the only one giving this the coverage it deserves.

    A wee bit from Abby Martin RT has a lot of others at RT good coverage of this issue.

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