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: TPPA
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.