International people power beat multinational corporate power
International Civil Society Movements Succeed in Derailing the TPP
On Friday, the U.S. Obama administration conceded it could not gain congressional approval of the TPP, which had been its top priority since the pact’s February 2016 signing. And the bipartisan revolt against the deal in the U.S. electorate that played out in congressional and presidential elections has left no path for a resurrected TPP, signifying its definitive demise.
It was a seven-year internationally-coordinated, strategic campaign by social movements in TPP countries that stopped the TPP. Proponents planned to sign a deal in 2012 and ram the TPP through the political systems of each country before sufficient public attention could mount. Civil society movements from Australia to Peru, New Zealand to Malaysia, and Chile to Japan fought back against the TPP’s corporate agenda, building up unprecedented coalitions of opposition to the deal in each country. This campaigning created severe political liability for governments if they conceded to retrograde TPP proposals to expand monopolies for pharmaceutical firms, expand investor rights, deregulate finance and more. It delayed the conclusion of the negotiations for years, providing time to organize opposition in the United States and pushed the TPP decision into the U.S. election cycle, a period of heightened U.S. political accountability.
Civil society networks across TPP countries celebrated the demise of the deal, which would have expanded corporate power to destroy peoples’ livelihoods, undermine human rights and the environment, threaten financial stability, increase the cost of life-saving medicines and attack health and other pro-people safeguards – and stand resolved to fight as fiercely against any other trade deal that does not put people and the planet first.
Selected statements from international campaigners:
“Community groups in Australia and other TPP countries have campaigned since 2009 against the TPP corporate agenda, which gave more rights to global corporations and made it harder for governments to regulate them in the public interest. We will continue to campaign to ensure that the TPP is not used as a model for other trade agreements, and to advocate for fair trade based on the principles of human rights and environmental sustainability” – Dr Patricia Ranald, Convener of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network
“The TPP is in full-blown cardiac arrest, thanks to years of international campaigning against this toxic deal, including turning Senate and House elections into contests over rejecting the TPP. But the one thing I know from watching trade agreements is that free trade proponents always try to resuscitate these deals under different names – CETA, TiSA and others. We need to put a ‘do not resuscitate’ order on these corporate deals once and for all.” – Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians
“The immense effort by many social movements to oppose the implementation of TPP harvested its first fruit – the U.S. government’s decision to not pursue congressional approval of the deal. And this forces us to take the next step in reflection and struggle related to free trade agreements: to rethink the role of transnational corporations in them, their impact on the model of production, the impact on the environment and on the working conditions of thousands of workers throughout the world.” – Carlos Figueroa Salazar, Chile Mejor sin TPP
“We, the non-partisan, anti-TPP coalition network in Japan, are proud of being a part of the international campaign to bury the TPP. As the Abe Administration is still persisting in passing implementing bills and even his political agenda of TPP-plus, we will continue our struggle to the very end.” – Yasuo Kondo, member of the joint secretariat of the Japanese coalition National Action to Stop TPP Ratification
“We are relieved that after several years of engaging with both the Malaysian government and citizens on the issue, the TPP is now finally dead. We believe that if the TPP were put into force, it would be the nail in the coffin for the people’s welfare, interest and sovereignty not only in the U.S., but throughout the 11 other signatory countries of the pact. However, this relief is only temporary, as those who seek to make supreme corporate rights and domination over the welfare, interests and sovereignty of the people will not rest but, as we speak, are working to realise their goals through many other trade and investment deals. The struggle continues for trade and economic justice.” – Nizam Mahshar, Chairman of BantahTPPA, Malaysian coalition of 50 organizations opposing the TPP
“An unprecedented campaign against the TPP brought together Kiwis from every walk of life – doctors, musicians, local governments, Maori, the Internet community, unionists and politicians, and many tens of thousands of ordinary Kiwis who took to the streets all over the country. As we celebrate this victory, for now, we call on all our governments to abandon the failed model they continue to push in other equally toxic negotiations. We will continue to work with international allies to develop a progressive and just alternative based on the people’s needs for the 21st century, not those of the corporations.” – Dr Jane Kelsey, Member of the Its Our Future coalition, New Zealand
“In Peru, for years we have been resisting the imposition of the TPP, because it was an antidemocratic pact negotiated in secret that sought to promote changes to the international trade rules at a global level. Throughout the process, the pact excluded critical actors such as civil society, legislators, and even governmental sectors that demonstrated their concerns about the negative impacts that it would bring. In addition to highlighting specific issues of concern, we have insisted that, for the people of Peru, the TPP is a project that validates the agenda of multinational corporate interests, strengthening the development model we’ve been facing for years in our countries that fails to prioritize the rights of people.” – Ana Romero, Director of the Peruvian Network for Globalization with Equality
“Lesson one from the TPP’s defeat is that just because the President of the United States and transnational corporations want something, it doesn’t mean we need to give it to them. With peoples’ movements united across borders and across sectors, we were able to stop a power grab by some of the most powerful economic and political interests in human history. That’s something to keep in mind during the hard years to come under President Trump and other corporate-aligned political leaders. Our coalition is deeply grateful for all the hard work our allies across the Pacific Rim put into defeating this monster.” – Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign, a fair trade coalition that fought the TPP in the United States.
“The Coalition Mexico Better off Without TPP has roots in the Trinational struggle against NAFTA, against the FTAA, and against other neoliberal free trade and investment treaties. In the specific fight against TPP, we restarted a Latin American coordination with our brothers, friends and colleagues from Chile Best Without TPP, Peruvian Platform against TPP-TISA, RedGE, Argentina Best Without TLC, Colombia TLC at the Bank, ISP, CSA. We strengthened our fraternal relationships with Canadian networks Common Frontiers, RQIC, Council of Canadians, and numerous and courageous civil organizations campaigning against the TPP in the United States and other TPP countries. The Mexican Coalition has called for a defeat of any “Plan B” TPP without the U.S. and similar treaties.” – Mexico Better Off Without TPP Coalition