Controversial Trade Deal Criticized for Secrecy, Benefiting only Multinationals

TPP Should be Rejected by Congress, Could Have Wide-ranging Impact on Farmers and Food Systems

Minneapolis/Washington D.C.–After years of negotiations behind closed doors, it appears that the 12 countries that make up the Trans Pacific Partnership have reached a deal. While the details remain secret, the new trade rules could have serious impacts on farmers and ranchers, consumer labeling, farm to school programs and other state and local policies supporting local food systems.

“While this trade agreement has been negotiated in secret, what we do know should concern those who care about fair and sustainable food systems,” said Karen Hansen-Kuhn, IATP, Director of International Strategies. “Multinational agribusiness companies wanted this deal—it provides them a framework to lower regulations and expand their market power. Unfortunately, that same framework has proven to be a bad deal for farmers, consumers and the environment.”

Despite major implications for the nation’s economy and food and farm system, the Obama Administration sought to keep the negotiating text secret, repeatedly denying calls for a more transparent process. Earlier this year, Congress barely passed the controversial Fast Track legislation which prohibits Members of Congress from amending the deal. Instead, they are limited to only an up or down vote. President Obama must wait 90 days before officially signing the TPP. The deal’s text will only be available to Members of Congress for the next 30 days. It will be made public after that. Following the President’s signing of the trade deal, Congress must wait at least another 30 days before a vote for final ratification, pushing a vote off until February 2016 at the earliest.

“We’ll know more as the details emerge, but a few concerning things are already clear,” said Hansen-Kuhn. “Dairy markets were opened up despite clear signs that too much dependence on fickle world markets is dangerous for farmers. Canada’s food sovereignty, at least in the dairy sector, was weakened. And all indications are that provisions on investment and food safety will increase corporate control over food and farm systems. We need a new way of trade negotiation or we’ll keep having the same old unfair, bad trade deals that only work for a privileged few.”

“The TPP ignores climate change completely and this is a major setback,” said IATP’s Climate Director Ben Lilliston. “Past trade deals have driven an extractive mode of globalization that has led to mass deforestation, fossil fuel withdrawal and an energy-intensive industrial model of agriculture. Unfortunately, TPP is more of the same—an outdated, climate-damaging trade deal.”

IATP has written several analyses of the implications of the TPP, based on leaked text and news reports:

Big Meat Swallows the Trans Pacific Partnership

Who’s Century is it? The Trans Pacific Partnership, Food and a 21st Century Trade Agreement

Who’s at the Table? Demanding Answers on Agriculture in the Trans Pacific Partnership