Surprise: Corporations Write Our Trade Agreements
March 26, 2016
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Opposition to the Transpacific Partnership continues to grow. Public concern centers on potential job loss and the ways in which corporations are likely to use their enhanced mobility to lower worker wages and benefits, weaken unions, and escape taxation. More knowledge of the agreement would produce outrage at the way its terms are also designed to block progress on climate change, raise the cost of health care, overturn efforts to regulate the financial industry . . . . well you get the idea.
If it sounds like this so-called trade agreement was designed to serve corporate interests that is because it was largely written by those who represent those interests.
The Washington Post published some great infographics which highlight the corporate-heavy network of official trade advisers that helped shape the US negotiating position and final agreement.
As you can see in the first graphic below, private industry and trade groups (which represent private industry) make up 85 percent of all the official advisers.
This overall breakdown, while revealing, does not fully capture the actual influence of the corporate sector. As we see in the next infographic, labor and ngo representatives are basically excluded from the key committees where the US Trade Representative’s positions on trade, investment, and finance policies are hammered out. The one committee dominated by labor, the Trade Negotiations and Labor Policy, is largely irrelevant since there are no binding labor accords in the agreement. The same is basically true of the Trade and Environment committee.