The leaked documents from the Trans-Pacific Partnership showed the possibility for the agreement to expand well beyond the original countries that are party to the agreement. And before the TPP has completed negotiations or been signed, we’re already seeing evidence of that. In remarks yesterday at the outset of the G20 summit, Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced that his country would join the negotiations of the trade deal:
I’d also like to inform you that President Barack Obama and I have had a very fruitful meeting. We have touched upon issues of great relevance for the success of the G20 summit. But there’s one topic of the greatest importance that we’d like to share with you, and that is that the United States, together with the other eight countries that make up the TPP — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — have welcomed Mexico for it to join the negotiations of this initiative.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an expansion of the trade agreement that was known initially as P-4, and that began in 2006 by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. And this commercial trade initiative was added into by Australia, the United States, Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam afterwards. So this is one of the free trade initiatives that’s most ambitious in the world and would foster integration of the Asia Pacific region, one of the regions with the greatest dynamism in the world. And this region negotiating the TPP represents 26 — of the world’s GDP, 15 percent of exports and 12 of imports.
Mexico already has a trade deal with the United States, the much-maligned NAFTA. So their move to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership shows how this new treaty can eventually turn into the organizing structure for global trade, with participation of potentially every country in the world. That makes the leaked documents on investor-state relations, which would allow corporations to surmount national rules and regulations on labor, environmental and many other standards, all the more consequential. Plus, as Lori Wallach notes, this proves that the TPP is more about deregulation for corporations than an export strategy. Mexico not only has trade agreements with the US, but most of the countries in the TPP. They only need to be party to the agreement to capture the more favorable investor-state relations rules.
President Obama had this to say about the TPP:
On the bilateral relationship, I think that because of the work that we’ve done together, Mr. President, the bonds that were already so strong between our two countries have become stronger. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations that you just referred to are a good example.
We are obviously two of our most important trading partners to each other, but we both recognize that growth is going to take place in the Asia Pacific region. We are part of that network of nations that are growing and dynamic. And for us now to be able to create a high standard trade agreement that further increases job opportunities, commercial opportunities, investment opportunities, I think will benefit citizens in both our countries that are eager to compete and to be able to prosper in a global market.
Typical neoliberal glorifying of corporate-written global trade deals, without any recognitions of the downsides of nearly two decades of NAFTA, or the effects of trade on manufacturing and industry generally.
In a statement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka took more of the bright-side view, stressing that the impact of Mexico’s inclusion in the TPP depends on the text of that agreement. Trumka, no fan of NAFTA, said that TPP could represent improvements on the status quo. I think this is more about Trumka trying to influence the course of the negotiations.
To the extent that key TPP provisions represent improvements over NAFTA rules, Mexico’s accession has the potential to benefit working families both here and in Mexico. To the extent that weaker rules prevail, workers will continue to pay a high price for the job displacement and regulatory erosion caused by NAFTA and other trade agreements, while corporations will continue to benefit [...]
Neither American nor Mexican workers can afford another corporate-directed trade agreement. Good jobs, secure labor rights, and rising standards of living for all workers must guide the TPP negotiations.
Mexican President Calderon said, darkly, “I know that other nations want to join the TPP, and I hope that they’ll be able to do that soon.” This could be NAFTA times a hundred before it’s done.