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<nettime> ALAI > Alejandro Villamar > TPP: the crown of transnational strategy


[< http://www.alainet.org/es/node/174327 >, via  {AT} glynmoody]


The TPP: the crown of transnational strategy

   Alejandro Villamar
   17/12/2015

   The recent formal conclusion of negotiations for the Transpacific
   mega-treaty (Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement - TPP) is aimed at
   reaching goals that transnational capital has been pursuing since the
   1980s.  Its first strategy was headed by the structural adjustment
   programmes of the triad WB-IMF-IADB, and the North American Free Trade
   Agreement NAFTA (1994) was the first advancement in integrating the
   political objectives in a binding text, followed by the creation of the
   World Trade Organization (WTO 1995).


   When the WTO was recently created and working to introduce the themes
   of Finance and Intellectual Property Rights (Singapore Agenda-1996), as
   well as a Multilateral Investments Agreement (MIA), the general
   director of the WTO, Renato Ruggiero, cynically described the moment:
   "We are writing the Constitution of a single global economy"
   (Singapore, 1996).


   Nineteen years after the Ruggiero statement, the discourse on hegemony
   and the world economy is being renewed with the TPP: "Under this
   agreement we, rather than countries like China, are writing the rules
   for the global economy." (B. Obama, October, 2015).


   Nonetheless, the objective was never restricted to the world economy,
   nor regional ones, nor does it seek global prosperity, security and
   sustainability, much less democracy, but rather the transformation of
   the rules of the world order in response to the needs of globalizing
   transnational capital.


   Over more than twenty years of resistance struggles, networks of social
   activists, of personalities, academics and governments have
   demonstrated that behind the cliché "free trade agreement" there are
   essentially political objectives such as eliminating the facilities of
   the State to regulate for social goals, placing corporate rights of
   capital above human rights and those of nature, and creating mechanisms
   of global governance of the economy without any democratic legitimacy
   or control.


   The agreements as instruments of transnational policy


   Over the last thirty years, the United States has accumulated
   experience as well as failures, in their attempt to impose global
   rules, written into Agreements to consolidate the interests of
   transnational globalization. The free trade agreements (FTAs) have been
   one of these means and the best known cliché to impose this corporate
   strategy.


   The United States, after concluding FTAs, first with Israel (1985) and
   then with Canada (1987), as well as a regional one (NAFTA, 1994),
   unfurled a global strategy to reach a Multilateral Agreement (in the
   WTO) or through bilateral or regional agreements such as regional
   agreements, both those of the FTA type as well and those for the
   Protection of Investments, for the Protection of Intellectual Property,
   or that prepare the political-diplomatic terrain through Framework
   Agreements on Trade and Investment.  The most favored terrain for the
   offensive of the FTAs was Latin America: 11 FTAs of a total of 20
   agreements, all reached before the attempt to crown this strategy with
   the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA ).


   Within this strategy, the priority has been on questions of investment
   and intellectual property.  The agreements, euphemistically called
   Bilateral Treaties on Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investment
   (BIT) were imposed on underdeveloped countries on a world scale.  Of
   the 42 BIT treaties that the US has signed, the space chosen in the
   decade 1994-2004 were the so-called countries in transition (16
   countries); only eight Latin American countries, without TLCs, were
   added to this group . In this field, the European countries are
   dominant in the world with 30% of the approximately 4,600 BITs in
   force.


   One strategy much defended by the transnational monopolies has been the
   Multilateral and Bilateral Treaties for so-called intellectual property
   protection (patents, trademarks, copyright, industrial designs and
   others), an area dominated worldwide by the developed countries, with
   51% of the 2.3 millions of patent requests. Nevertheless, the
   importance of China is unquestionable, with 28% of the total, above the
   23% of the US.  In requests for trademarks, China has 25% and the US
   17% of the 6.5 million requests .


   In this strategic matter, of the 34 treaties for the protection of
   Intellectual Property, 24 have been bilateral agreements with 24
   countries (13 previous to the WTO and 11 afterwards). Two Multilateral
   Treaties have preceded 8 multilateral agreements or specific reforms
   with the WTO or afterwards .


   A three-track strategy


   Transnational interests, headed by the triad of the governments of the
   US, the European Union and Japan, have for three decades pushed for
   bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives. Starting from the
   neoliberal rules achieved with the North American FTA (NAFTA), their
   reproduction in the WTO, and the attempt to extend them to the whole
   hemisphere through the FTAA, the conditions in which Japan was
   developing its productive articulation in Asia through the APEC Forum
   was also transformed, as were the conditions in which the European
   Community - European Union maintained their neocolonial relation
   through the Lomé and Cotonou Agreements with the ACP countries (their
   79 ex-colonies in Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific).


   The triad tried without success to incorporate additional themes into
   the agenda of the WTO, where they faced the unexpected civil society
   mobilization and the opposition of various blocks of countries, headed
   by those from Africa and the most dispossessed areas, in the third
   ministerial summit in Seattle, US (1999). Four years earlier, the APEC
   Summit in Osaka (1995) had entered into a crisis due to the attempt to
   transform a forum of political-economic dialogue into a space of
   obligatory deregulation on various themes.  The same thing happened
   during the failed the Summit of the WTO in Cancun, in September of 2003
   .


   The regional space, where a number of the controversial issues were
   already inserted into the 11 FTAs with Latin American countries,
   encouraged the US to insist in trying to obtain the acceptance of the
   hemispheric project of an FTA, the FTAA.  However, in the historic
   Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata (November, 2005), the US
   President (G. W. Bush) and his allies from Mexico (V. Fox) and Chile
   (R. Lagos) suffered a noisy defeat at the hands of an unusual alliance
   between governments opposed to the FTAA and alternative hemispheric
   social networks such as the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA) and the
   Continental Campaign against the FTAA.


   "The good thing is that we didn't have to do the work. The Mexicans and
   Chileans were more angry than we were": Thomas H. Shannon, Joint
   Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean of the State Department,
   stated in a declaration to the press .


   A change of strategy: using what is available to obtain what is desired


   With a chain of disasters and a worn out strategy that was clearly
   unpopular, the neoliberal coalition, especially the US, changed their
   strategy and adopted a varied agenda of "soft power" , renewed as
   "intelligent power" to facilitate the weakening of resistance and
   adoption of the policies they were seeking.  For this they proposed: 1)
   to strengthen and deepen the agenda and the labour of the official
   hemispheric institutions, the majority coming out of the first Summit
   of the Americas (Miami, 2004); 2) to coordinate policies of the
   regional financial organizations and continue the agenda of advising on
   deregulation or "competitive modernization", with the Latin American
   governments and the leaders of business organizations; 3) to firmly
   support the lobbying work of US organizations with a Latin American
   agenda, such as the Council of the Americas and academic institutions;
   4) to make intensive use of the support of powerful media groups; and
   5) to support and strengthen business opposition to Latin American
   governments that were seeking to confront this dominant model, even to
   the point of promoting (hard or soft) coups d'état.


   In the words of ex-Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in July 2009:
   with respect to the US foreign policy approach, the "facts demand a
   different global architecture...  We'll work through existing
   institutions and reform them... We'll go beyond states to create
   opportunities for non-state actors and individuals to contribute to
   solutions... At the same time, we are working with our key treaty
   allies, Japan and Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines and
   other partners to strengthen our bilateral relationships as well as
   trans-Pacific institutions.  We are both a trans-Atlantic and a
   trans-Pacific nation." .


   Ms. Clinton made public what had been going on for some time without a
   great deal of noise, under the mandate of the never eradicated 23
   thematic initiatives of the Action Plan of the Miami Summit (1994),
    intensified as of 2005 with public-private alliances through
   periodic meetings of Ministers of the Americas in Finance, Energy,
   Agriculture, Mines, Defence and another dozen themes, under the formal
   umbrella of the IADB, OAS and IICA .


   At the same time, a network of `civic' institutions and organizations,
   intimately tied to the policies of the US State Department, has been
   "modernizing" the public policy of the majority of Latin American and
   Caribbean governments, through "regulatory reforms" and
   "competitiveness", as well as forming alliances with the business
   leadership of our countries.


   Thus the law firm of ex-officials of the privatization wave, Jacobs,
   Cordoba and Associates, the direct authors of 11 programmes of
   (de)regulatory reforms of Latin American governments (of a total of 74
   governments "advised" in the world) , are also the "super-experts"
   of the Inter-American Competitiveness Network -- RIAC  of the
   Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils linked to the World
   Economic Forum, the Summit of the transnationals .


   For their part, the business organization Council of the Americas,
   created by D. Rockefeller, has since 2006 intensified its hemispheric
   programme of neoliberal promotion and political relations: 75 meetings
   in 16 capital cities; lobbies converted into a cult by business
   leaders, and governments, including some sympathetic presidents.


   Thus banks, technocrats, lobbyists, academics and powerful corporate
   media monopolies have continued working daily, in coordination with
   government officials and some civil society organizations, from inside
   our countries with transnational programmes and ideology, that we have
   not managed to eradicate, even with progressive governments.


   Since 2007, we warned about this dangerous strategy , that has not
   only given rise to the Pacific Alliance, but has now become the
   political support of the TPP: that dangerous prong of the new
   transnational pincer grip, of which the other, tomorrow, could be its
   twin, the Trans-Atlantic treaty.


   The TPP is intended to go beyond the defeat of the FTAA and crown in
   triumph this long and multiform strategy to create a world adapted to
   their interests. Only united social mobilization at a global level
   could bring sufficient pressure to bear on legislators and governments,
   in order to defeat this Super-FTAA.


    (Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)


   Alejandro Villamar is an analyst, activist and member of the Red
   Mexicana de Accion frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC).

    * Article published in Spanish in ALAI's magazine: America Latina en
   Movimiento No. 509 (November 2015), titled "A 10 anos de la derrota del
   ALCA" (10 years on from the defeat of the FTAA).
   http://www.alainet.org/es/revistas/509

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