Fair Trade Coalition plans rally against corporate control of trade pact

Negotiations are underway on what experts say will become the largest free-trade agreement in the world, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But as important as this deal will be for workers worldwide, it has been negotiated behind closed doors, away from public scrutiny.

On July 9 the Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition will stage a rally to protest these secret negotiations. The coalition of labor, environmental and agricultural organizations will take its message to one of the multinational corporations granted access to TPP negotiations: Cargill.

The rally will begin at 10 a.m. outside Cargill’s offices at 9380 Excelsior Boulevard in Hopkins. Activists will call on U.S. trade negotiators to release their proposals and let the public see what its own government is doing.

“The only people who have access to these negotiations are ‘cleared advisors,’” the Fair Trade Coalition says in a flier promoting the rally. “These people are corporate lobbyists, including from Cargill, that have used their financial clout to get in the room. That’s right, corporate lobbyists have more access to laws than our own members of Congress!”

Click here to read Minnesota Fair Trade Coalition Director Josh Wise’s column about TPP negotiations, published in the April 2012 Union Advocate.

TPP negotiations are scheduled to resume next week in San Diego. Nations included in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the U.S.

The agreement could create legally binding policies regarding agriculture, workers’ rights and intellectual-property rights – without any input from U.S. lawmakers during negotiations.

Not surprisingly, 132 members of Congress have signed a complaint, addressed to the Obama administration’s chief trade negotiator, that TPP negotiations have not been sufficiently open to public or congressional scrutiny.

Drafts of the agreement leaked to the public suggest it will grant corporations broad new powers, including the right to skirt domestic laws and regulations by filing suit before international “trade tribunals” – something Obama promised he would not support during the 2008 campaign.

Free-trade pacts have been notoriously bad news for American workers. The North American Free Trade Agreement, passed in 1994, cost the U.S. nearly 700,000 jobs, most of them in manufacturing, according to a 2011 study by the Economic Policy Institute.

For more information on the July 9 rally, contact Josh Wise at 952-818-5474 or josh [at] citizenstrade [dot] org.

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