Building A “Global Trading Empire”: The Merger of NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?
by Dana Gabriel
June 26, 2012
Both Canada and Mexico have been invited to join the U.S., along with other countries already engaged in negotiations which will deepen trade and economic ties within the Asia-Pacific region. Such a deal would surpass NAFTA in size and scope. The U.S. led talks which have been criticized for their secretive nature, could be used to update aspects of existing trade pacts among member nations. This would provide the perfect opportunity for a backdoor renegotiation of NAFTA without officially having to open it back up.
After expressing interest in joining trade talks back in November 2011, NAFTA partners have been invited to join the U.S. backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) which also includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk welcomed both Mexico and Canada into the TPP fold. He noted that, “Mexico has assured the United States that it is prepared to conclude a high-standard agreement that will include issues that were not covered in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).” He added, “Inviting Canada to join the TPP negotiations presents a unique opportunity for the United States to build upon this already dynamic trading relationship. Through TPP, we are bringing the relationship with our largest trading partner into the 21st century.” A joint statement by the U.S. and Canada acknowledged that, “The TPP presents an opportunity to conclude a high standard agreement that will build on the commitments of NAFTA.”
The Council of Canadians which continues to be a vocal opponent of NAFTA and other trade deals that follow the same flawed template, are strongly against Canada’s entry into the TPP. Its national chairperson, Maude Barlow warned that this, “could force Canada to change its drug policies, its copyright policies, its environmental and public health rules – all without going through the normal parliamentary process.” The organization cautioned how, “TPP negotiations could mean up-front concessions in a number of areas, including intellectual property rights, where the U.S. is making considerable demands on TPP member countries that will undermine access to essential medicines so that its multinational drug firms can increase profits.” They also emphasized that, “Supply management, which guarantees fair wages and stable prices for farmers in non-exporting sectors, is too valuable to Canada to sacrifice on a negotiating table.” Others have pointed out that it is important as a buy-local program, as well as key to Canada’s food security and food sovereignty. The Council of Canadians maintains that, “the TPP is by and large a NAFTA renegotiation but on U.S. President Obama’s terms.”