American big business has now officially endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), giving many all the proof they need that the 12-nation deal—poised to be the largest ever—is bad news for people and the planet.
An association of Chief Executive Officers known as the Business Roundtable (BRT) announced its formal backing on Tuesday, indicating that it plans to use its muscle to press Congress to approve the deal this year. In fact, BRT president John Engler told The Hill that the association wants the TPP to pass as quickly as possible—before the summer.
That endorsement followed Monday's announcement from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) that it is throwing its weight behind the pact. "Open markets encourage cooperation and prosperity among nations and governments, rather than conflict, and the NAM has a long and proud history of promoting free and fair trade," said NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.
With these two endorsements now established, some predict that the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be next.
To be sure, multinational corporations have already been heavily influential in the TPP negotiations, which have been conducted in near complete secrecy.
But the endorsements this week appear to be calculated to add momentum to the deal in Congress. Because the U.S. Senate passed Fast Track authority this summer, lawmakers will not be able to debate or amend the deal. But both houses must ratify the TPP, which will likely be submitted by the White House in the early spring.
Civil society groups are still holding out hope that grassroots pressure can persuade legislators to vote down the TPP.
And within those countries that are party to the deal—the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam—labor unions, environmental groups, community organizations, and grassroots social movements are vigorously opposing the accord with protests, open letters, and organizing.
When the full text of the TPP was finally released this fall, it confirmed what civil society groups around the world have long warned: the deal poses a profound threat to global health, the environment and climate, free speech, and Internet freedom.
Meanwhile, the history of the TPP's backers is telling. NAM alone has a track record of opposing legislation to address the climate crisis, was involved in a lawsuit to challenge U.S. rules requiring disclosure of blood diamonds, and has vigorously opposed disclosure of political spending.