As 11 nations signed a highly-contested Pacific Rim free trade agreement in Chile on Thursday, opponents from those countries voiced their dissent in protest while progressives allies in the United States—which isn't part of the pact—admitted that although they "dodged a bullet," global solidarity against such "corporate-dominated" deals remains as important as ever.
The "cynically renamed" Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership is a revision of the TPP—which President Donald Trump withdrew from just days after taking office—and includes all of the other original signatories: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
"We know from our years-long, internationally-coordinated TPP campaign that our sisters and brothers in those nations fought against the corporate-rigged TPP model as hard as we did," the U.S.-based group Public Citizen said Thursday. "We stand in solidarity with them as they continue to mobilize to block the ratification and implementation of this TPP-11 deal in their countries."
In Santiago, Chile, hundreds of people took to the streets to protest the new deal.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) March 8, 2018
Protesters carried signs declaring, "No to modern slavery, no to the TPP-11" and "The TPP and TPP-11 are the same!" as they marched between the Defense Ministry and La Moneda Palace, the headquarters of the Chilean government, according to a report from the Latin American Herald Tribune. "We are going to continue fighting because it still must be approved after the vote," one activist told the outlet.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Newshub reports that protesters "dumped dozens of pillows, soft dog toys, and homemade rats" that featured messages such as "It's our children's future! We must protect it!" written in marker, outside of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Auckland office. Auckland TPP Action Group spokeswoman Chantelle Campbell said the pillows, "symbolize how the government has gone to sleep on the wider implications of the TPP."
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In Christchurch, New Zealand, members from another of direct action group "stood in a wooden box cementing their feet into concrete outside Labour MP Ruth Dyson's office."
— Newshub (@NewshubNZ) March 8, 2018
Earlier this year, when the Canadian government announced it would sign on to the new deal, it was met with notable opposition from the nation's labor unions.
Canadian Labor Congress president Hassan Yussuff noted that the pact has been widely unpopular since the negotitions in 2016, when the government consulted with laborers across Canada.
"Everywhere the government went, Canadians were clear that they opposed the deal because it would cost Canadian jobs and harm Canadian industries," Yussuff said. "It's clear that none of those issues have been resolved. This deal won't just undermine Canadian workers in its own right, but will undermine any possibility of a progressive strategy on NAFTA or any other trade deals."
While the United States, Canada, and Mexico struggle to come to a revised agreement for NAFTA, Trump on Thursday signed new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum—despite warnings from his own cabinet that it could spark a trade war. Because the NAFTA talks are ongoing, the Trump administration has temporarily excluded its North American neighbors from the new tariffs.