TPP In The News
Democracy? Sovereignty? You be the judge.
As NHK World notes:
The Japanese government has increased its negotiating team for the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks. Japan will join the negotiations for the first time. The talks are already in their fourth year. The next round of multinational negotiations will be in Malaysia starting July 15th. Japan is to take part in the 10-day talks starting on the 23rd.
Well? The US has not yet decided if Japan may join or not. Once the United States of America decides, Japan may or may not join the TPP talks starting on the 23rd (not when everyone else starts). And until then, Japan has no access to the documents, and which square brackets are about to be deleted as a favour for agreeing to Japan or anyone else agreeing to delete square brackets in the text, that may be favourable to people here or there. I would say? Japan getting in at all, at the mercy of some US congressman or -woman having a good day or not. What a rotten deal.
NHK World does not save its old stories, but if you want to follow important news developments like this, you have to save to your own computer. Here is the story from May 24, 2013.
Japan to join TPP talks in July
Japan will not be able to take part in the negotiations until it clears formalities in the United States on July 23rd. This means Japan can only participate in the next round for up to 3 days.
In a joint press conference after the talks, Peru's chief negotiator Edgar Vasquez said that "member nations are aware that Japan wants to participate in the next round of talks in a meaningful way, and they believe that can be arranged". Before becoming a full TPP member, Japan has no access to documents relating to past negotiations. Given limited time at the negotiating table, Japanese government plans to step up its information gathering on market access rules and other areas of the agreement by sending officials to other participating countries.
May 24, 2013 - Updated 21:14 UTC
(Link no longer available)
Link however is available to a very interesting article where Nobel Prize-winning Joseph Stiglitz says, Thailand should not join the TPP:
Emerging markets including Thailand, other ASEAN countries and China should "decouple themselves from Western markets", Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz said during a speech in Bangkok yesterday.
To be able to grow, emerging markets must be less dependent on exports, boost domestic consumption and find their own model of sustainable economic growth, the US economist said.
Stiglitz said the most serious questions facing the global and regional economies were whether the euro zone would survive; whether the European Union would drop the austerity policies that have caused recession and switch to a policy of growth; and whether the US will be able to move beyond its current gridlock. Stiglitz expected not more than 3 per cent growth in the US in the near future, adding that the country needs to reduce its significant unemployment level. But full employment was not in sight this decade, he said.
"It's going to be a long time before we can get back to what I may call normal," he said.
He also expected emerging markets, China in particular, to be able to decouple their economies from Western economies and develop in a sustainable way.
Stiglitz was speaking during an on-stage interview with Nation Multimedia Group chairman Suthichai Yoon. He earlier gave a lecture on the global economic outlook as part of an international academic seminar at Dhurakij Pundit University.
The Nobel laureate opposes austerity measures, saying they had proven to lead to recession and depression. To avoid repeating developed countries' mistakes, newly emerging economies should invest in education, technology, the environment and public health and find a sustainable model of economic growth, he said.
"Focus on quality of growth, environment, living standards and how the benefits are shared," he said.
US innovations had contributed in part to the country's current economic instability. The innovations were created to save labour costs, but now unemployment rates are problematic, he said.
The US and European countries, as well as Japan, also need structural and educational reforms, but implementing them was difficult now that they were facing economic problems, Stiglitz said.
"From the point of view of the region and from the point of view of the planet, it's going to be very important for China to develop a new model of economic growth, because if it imitates the economic growth of the United States based on [unchecked] consumption and material goods, our planet won't survive," he said.
Discussing the problems in the euro zone, he voiced opposition to the idea of a common currency - a direction in which ASEAN might be heading.
"If you go down the common currency [route], that is a bad idea. You need to talk about Asian cooperation," he said. "Sharing a currency takes away the ability to adapt, to adjust," he said.
"A common market is a good idea; while the issues of the market are relatively small, they can still benefit from economy of scale."
Stiglitz said corporations' lobbying of politicians was standing in the way of resolving economic problems.
He also warned that the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP) that the US is trying to reach with other countries is dangerous.
"While negotiations are behind closed doors, cooperation is on the table," he said.
Drug companies, for example, are among the corporations lobbying politicians in secret negotiations, he said.
"The objective [of drug companies] is to make profit. The way they do this is to make you pay high prices even though the basic research is paid for by the American government," he said.
"They are very bad for the development of generic drug industries. Thailand is one of the good countries in this area. It would be a mistake for you to give up on that. And if you join the TPP, you will have to," he said.
From the NGO sector:
Japan has a large number of consumer organizations, both on the national level and local level. Several, including Shufuren, Parc, Seikatsu Club, Pal System Coop, Dai-ichi Mamoru Kai, Shin Nihon Fujin Kai, have joined CUJ in protesting against the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Here is the latest statement from CUJ:
February 25, 2013
To: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Statement of Protest against the Japan-US Joint Statement Regarding TPP
According to the Japanese government’s communique about TPP after the talks between Prime Minister Abe and President Obama on February 23, 2013, that “it is not required to make a prior commitment to unilaterally eliminate all tariffs upon joining the TPP negotiations.”
However, in a news conference in response to this, Prime Minister Abe mentioned that there was no explicit promise regarding tariff sanctions during his meeting with President Obama. Meanwhile, the governing coalition of LDP and New Komeito is leaning towards announcing that Japan will participate in the TPP negotiations as early as possible.
Prime Minister Abe has then gone on to talk about formally announcing participation in TPP negotiations during speeches in the Upper and Lower House Parliament sessions on February 28, 2013.
This is in sharp contrast to the LDP election promises during last December’s general election, to oppose Japan’s participation in the TPP negotiations if abolishing tariffs without restriction becomes a precondition. Five conditions were included in LDP’s election manifesto, including protecting the country’s health insurance system, which covers all citizens, and food safety standards, as well as not accepting numerical targets for imports of cars and other manufactured products. LDP also promised it would not liberalize financial services or rules regarding public procurement. The TPP also stipulates a new type of dispute resolution system, known as Investor-state Dispute System (ISD) that will allow foreign corporations or financial investors to sue governments in other countries. The comment by the Prime Minister only five days after his meeting with the US President can only be construed as an absurd violation of LDP’s election promises in key areas.
We regard it as unacceptable that such infringements of the rights of people can be proposed, that will infringe on our lives and all aspects of society. This is related to governance and Japan’s national structure, its politics, and issues related to important national policy-making.
We strongly protest against your actions.
Consumers Union of Japan