(COMMON DREAMS)Â Lauren McCauleyÂ âÂ Amid a last minute scramble, leaders from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries announced Monday that they had reached agreement on a sweeping trade deal, one that critics, including US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, say will slash standards and protections for both consumers and workersâwith impacts to be felt across the globe.
The agreement, known as theÂ Trans Pacific PartnershipÂ (or TPP), which would tie together as much as 40 percent of the world’s economy, has for nearly 8 years been negotiated in secret. Though details of the compromise were not yet revealed early Monday, critics said thatâminutia asideâthe global trade pact will certainly be a boon for corporate power
“TPP is a deal for big business,” said Nick Dearden, director of the UK-based Nick Dearden,Â Global Justice Now.
“Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”
– Bernie SandersPresidential candidate Bernie Sanders was also quick to condemn the deal.Â SayingÂ he was disappointed but not surprised by the “disastrous” agreement, Sanders added: “Wall Street and other big corporations have won again. It is time for the rest of us to stop letting multi-national corporations rig the system to pad their profits at our expense.”
The compromise was reached after five days of round-the-clock negotiations in Atlanta, Georgia. U.S. President Barack ObamaÂ reportedlyÂ “spent recent days contacting world leaders to seal the deal.”
The negotiations had been extended after talks got stuck over the issue of how long a monopoly period should be allowed on next-generation biotech drugs. The compromise reportedly reached between the U.S. and Australia “is a hybrid that protects companiesâ data for five years to eight years,” theÂ New York Timesreports,Â falling short of the 12 years desired by U.S. negotiators.
Other final compromises reportedly reached included “more open markets for dairy products and sugar, and a slow phaseoutâover two to three decadesâof the tariffs on Japanâs autos sold in North America,” theÂ TimesÂ continues.
One of the more controversial aspects of the deal is the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision, which permits multinational companies to sue governments over allegations that profits were lost due to local regulations.
“Two fifths of the global economy will be covered by corporate courts, meaning a huge rise in governments being sued for protecting the public interest from corporate greed,” Dearden explained. Then highlighting some of the other alarming provisions of the deal, he continued: “Medicine prices will rise as Big Pharma gets more power to monopolize markets. Small farmers will suffer from unfair competition with industrial scale agribusiness. No wonder this has been agreed in secret.”
Chris Shelton, president of the Communication Workers of America, said the agreement is “bad news” for working families and communities. In a statement, Shelton said, “Despite broad promises from the Obama administration,” the TPP “would continue the offshoring of jobs and weakening of our communities that started under the North American Free Trade Agreement,” and “would mean labor and environmental standards that look good on paper but fall flat when it comes to enforcement.”
“Itâs a corporate dream but a nightmare for those of us on Main Street,” he added.