Capitalists Never Sleep

Article by Stuart Bramhall.


TPPA Protest in Chicago (Sept 2011)TPPA Protest in Chicago (Sept 2011)

My fifth and final post about the antiglobalization movement – and why it’s more important than ever in 2011.

Activists mustn’t be lured into a false sense of security by the collapse of Doha round of WTO negotiations. Globalization is very much alive and well. WTO tribunals continue to meet secretly in Geneva enforcing trade provisions that have already been agreed. Moreover after a two year hiatus, an informal meeting at the May G20 Summit in Paris has resulted in the scheduling of a WTO ministerial in Geneva in December 2011. The goal of the December meeting is to try to reach a “partial” agreement on the Doha round.

Even more ominous are efforts by corporately-controlled governments in the industrial north to coerce concessions out of smaller countries with bilateral “free trade” (see * definition below)  deals that strip citizens of their democratic rights and force subsistence farmers off their lands in Africa and Southeast Asia (to enable their sale to multinational agrobusinesses).

The TPPA: Say Goodbye to Generics

At present, both the US and New Zealand are at highest risk from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a nine country (US, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Peru and Vietnam) free trade treaty currently being negotiated with the US. Up till now, the US has been unwilling to negotiate a “free trade” agreement with New Zealand, owing to this country’s antinuclear policy, which denies US naval vessels access to our harbors. I find it frankly embarrassing to see our new National (conservative) government tart themselves up like a cheap hooker in order to trade away New Zealand’s sovereignty, economic sustainability and public health.

Dr Jane Kelsey, New Zealand’s foremost anti-globalization lawyer and activist, was among the protestors at the Chicago anti-TPPA kick-off rally over Labor Day. Other high profile TPPA opponents include Public Citizen, Knowledge Ecology, and Health Gap (international HIV-AIDS campaigners). The last two groups are extremely concerned about TPPA provisions increasing the monopoly rights of pharmaceutical companies, which will make it virtually impossible for low income patients (especially in developing countries) to access low  cost life-saving generic drugs.

Kelsey has written and spoken extensively about the TPPA, which first came to public attention in New Zealand thanks to a December 2010 Wikileaks cable. Although New Zealand’s National-led government still refuses to release the full text of TPPA, enough has been leaked by various sources to reveal that its bad news for New Zealand’s democratic system of government. Like the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), it guarantees special rights to investors and forces the repeal of laws that interfere with the ability of multinational corporations to do business in this country. This includes scrapping PHARMAC, our world-famous bulk drug purchasing agency (pharmaceutical companies hate PHARMAC because it forces them to discount their brand name drugs), as well as restricting New Zealand’s ability to put warning labels on cigarette packs and content labels on genetically modified foods. It would curtail their ability to regulate dodgy finance companies, as well as forcing us to allow mining in our forest reserves, fishing in our marine reserves and high rise hotels on our pristine beaches.

To follow TPPA negotiations and get involved in the anti-TPPA movement go to http://tppwatch.org/

*Free trade – describes an approach to international trade that allows traders to trade across national boundaries without any interference from respective governments.


*Fair trade – is closer to the original “free trade” concept (abolishing protective tariffs and quotas) promoted by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations. Smith advocated that wealth should flow naturally from richer to poorer nations, as a way of increasing innovation and productive capacity in both rich and poor countries. Fair trade is an organized social movement around a market-based approach that advocates for third world producers to be paid a fairer, higher price for their products, as well as higher social and environmental standards.

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