VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist) For National Independence and Socialism • www.cpaml.org
TPP - Tool of US Imperialist globalisation
Fight for People’s Sovereign Rights and Power
by Alice M.
The latest international Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations held in Melbourne 1-9 March, confirmed what was already obvious to many. The TPP has nothing to do with trade between the 9 countries, but everything with increased imperialist plunder and exploitation of people and countries in the Asia-Pacific region by US imperialism on behalf of its monopoly finance capital and multinational corporations.
The US is driving the TPP to remove the few remaining government restrictions that stand in the way of unfettered profiteering by US multinationals. It will decimate more local jobs, manufacturers and producers, labour rights and conditions, health and education standards, and environmental regulations.
It’s a naked grab for more markets and natural resources, and a push for more privatisation of the remaining few public services and infrastructure.
It attacks the Australian working people’s hard won conditions, public and community services, and environmental protection, and will increase the cost of living. Local culture will be replaced with imported US commercial culture.
US global banks, pharmaceutical monopolies, agribusinesses and multinational corporations want the TPP to be a sharp instrument for expansion of US imperialist economic and political interests.
The TPP is not a new cocept, but another incarnation of the previous US-driven Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in the early 1990s, that was designed to give unfettered power to multinational corporations and finance capital investments over any national government laws and regulations that restricted their making maximum profit.
A massive united front of worldwide protests forced the imperialist countries to abandon plans for the MAI, at least temporarily. The Australian working people took part in the international movements against the MAI and the wave of imperialist globalisation.
Assault on workers’ rights and job security
The TPP is designed to open new doors for US corporations to import cheap labour, export more jobs, smash unions, and push down local wages and conditions.
Australian workers cannot possibly compete against cheap unorganised labour, unless they sell themselves cheaper by undercutting award rates, and accepting lesser working conditions and safety standards.
Precarious employment, casual and contract labour, outsourcing of jobs offshore, bringing in overseas workers, and paying lower wages and conditions – this is the future for Australia that US imperialism seeks.
Everything the Australian labour movement has fought for close to one hundred and fifty years is under attack from so-called free trade agreements that we are told will benefit us. The only obvious benefits are the increased profits for US multinational companies like Chevron, who send their profits overseas. Even now, the Maritime Union of Australia in Western Australia is waging a campaign against US multinational Chevron importing cheap labour from overseas to work on its projects.
Here is some of what’s at stake...
The TPP will de-industrialise and deskill Australia, with hundreds of supply contracts going offshore.
Bill of Rights for corporate plunder
The TPP Investor Rights will empower multinational corporations and foreign finance capital to sue governments and countries for hundreds of millions of dollars where local laws and regulations (labour laws, medicines, public education and community services, public services, occupational health and safety and environmental standards, protection of local industries and jobs) hinder foreign corporations’ and finance capital’s plunder, exploitation and search for new and greater profit making.
The TPP will force governments to change laws in the interest of profiteering multinationals, at the expense of the wellbeing of people and the environment. Foreign investor rights will prohibit government support and assistance to Australia’s local manufacturing, food production and agricultural companies. This will kill local medium and small businesses in manufacturing and food production.
Foreign investors will be given new rights and powers to claim compensation from national and local governments for loss of “expected future profits” as a result of local health, environmental, labour, land zoning or other government policies. The few government procurement policies still retained that favour government purchases from local small and medium Australian companies will be prohibited.
National and local governments will be compelled to open up the few remaining public instrumentalities and assets to foreign investors, or be prevented from competing with private corporations in areas such as public education, health, and community services.
The TPP will establish Investor-State international tribunals that allow foreign corporations to bypass local courts and laws to sue national and state governments. The tribunals will be administered by the World Bank and the UN. The tribunals’ judges will come from corporate backgrounds and may rotate between sitting on the tribunals and representing corporations at the tribunal hearings at different times!
In the international tribunals, the rights of foreign corporations to profiteer and exploit are elevated above the national interests and demands of local people and countries. National and local governments can be overruled in the interest of foreign corporations and corporate investors, and force governments to change laws for their benefit.
It gives US corporations rights to provide public and community services - health and education, public infrastructure, social and community services. There will be enormous pressure for further privatisation.
High price of medicines
PhRMA, the powerful US drug monopolies’ lobby group, wants TPP to force the Australian government to dismantle its subsidies to medicines and gut the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), giving monopoly privileges to US drug company operations in Australia.
Under the TPP provisions, foreign investors will be able to refuse to pay certain taxes to sovereign governments. Local taxes on mining super profits are already being challenged by foreign mining corporations operating in Ecuador and Algeria. In Australia, this will mean that foreign multinational mining corporations will be able to refuse to pay even the government’s mild Minerals Resources Rent Tax.
Local environmental regulations and standards will be removed to allow multinational corporations unfettered plunder and destruction of the natural environment. Multinationals can refuse to compensate governments for damage due to environmental destruction, and instead sue sovereign governments for diminishing profit. This is presently the case between the Ecuadorian government and Chevron, the US oil and gas multinational.
People’s resistance to TPP grows
However, US imperialism is not getting its way without international resistance.
In New Zealand a well organised and co-ordinated campaign has mobilised many different sections of society. New Zealand unions, small and medium farmers and manufacturers, artists and cultural workers, Maori communities, academics, and former politicians are part of a wide united front opposing the sell out of New Zealand to foreign corporations, urging the New Zealand government not to sign the TPP.
In the US, unions, community groups and activists, lawyers and academics have taken their campaign against the TPP to the Occupy Movement and politicians. They have re-named the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement to Taking People’s Power Away (TPPA).
In Malaysia, Chile and Peru, local indigenous groups are active.
In Australia, AFTINET (Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network), together with unions and community groups have been persistently pressuring the government not to give in to US demands to dismantle the PBS and empower US corporations to sue sovereign governments.
Australian government opposes foreign investor-state dispute mechanism
As a result of a long and well informed campaign by community groups and trade unions opposed to the TPP, the Australian Labor Government is now reluctant to sign off on the Foreign Investor-State Dispute Clause in the TPP. It has also stated its commitment not to dismantle the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) that ensures cheaper medicines for the people.
The US government and US multinationals are clearly annoyed with the Australian government for daring to refuse to follow US dictates absolutely. An angry letter to President Obama, signed by 31 CEOs of America’s top corporations and multinationals’ peak bodies, called on the US administration to exert pressure on the Australian government to sign the Foreign Investor-State Dispute Clause.
US makes demands at TPP negotiations
At the Stakeholders’ Forum in Melbourne, unions, community representatives, lawyers and academics from New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile and Australia put a strong case against the TPP, showing how living standards, working conditions, democratic rights, jobs and local industries and the environment will trashed by the TPP. In essence, they argued that Australia’s national sovereignty will be taken away by imperialism.
Representatives from the US Chamber of Commerce, and the Emergency Committee for American Trade (organisation of the heads of leading US multinational corporations and finance capital representing all major sectors of the US economy), were all there demanding and threatening the Australian government to sign the Foreign Investor-Dispute Mechanism Clause.
These heads of US monopolies demanded opening up the world economies to the unhindered flow of US finance capital into countries, removing any remaining obstacles to privatisation, and providing unhindered access to state owned enterprises.
The Business Council of Australia, the pawn of US imperialism, was there too, backing and cheering every demand made by US corporate overlords. Patrick Coleman, Policy Director and the voice of BCA at the Stakeholders meeting, echoed and strongly reinforced the earlier US corporate speakers. He insisted that “facilitating the flow of investment is a highest priority for the TPP to allow capital to flow freely”. He argued for lifting the foreign investment threshold; wanted caps on foreign equity lifted, and freedom for foreign corporations to appoint their own people to boards of directors, irrespective of nationality. Coleman’s speech was full of sycophantic praise and support for US corporations and US imperialism.
China and US imperialism
There is another silent agenda to the TPP, and that is China. US imperialism fears that China’s economic growth and influence in the region and globally is challenging US hegemony. It also wants to use TPP against China’s growing economic presence in local and global markets and natural resources.
The TPP, and the recently announced expansion of US military presence and activities in the Asia-Pacific region, are all part of the same US imperialist plans to protect and expand its dominance in the region.
Pressure on the Australian Government
The Australian government has taken a tentative positive step by refusing to sign on to the Investor-State Dispute Clause and refusing to give up the PBS. The US government and corporations are exerting heavy pressure that amounts to bullying, intimidation and threats on a sovereign government. The US is demanding that all countries sign the TPP by August 2012, and threatens that it won’t sign the Agreement without Australia signing off on the Investor-State Dispute Resolution.
The working people and their allies will continue to fight against this crooked deal. Ultimately, only a truly independent and democratic socialist Australia, with the political power bestowed in the working class and the people, can defend the people from imperialism.