The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

TPP Myths

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Upon President Obama's visit to Asia, critics are highlighting his push for the controversial trade aggreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

MARTIN KHOR,, @South_Centre

Khor is the executive director of South Centre. He writes the column "Global Trends" for the Daily Star. Two of his recent columns are "Obama and the TPPA" and "Obama's Visit and the TPPA" in which he writes, "Of concern is that the Congress will only pass the TPPA [Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement] if it has a clause disciplining countries that are 'currency manipulators.' ...

"A major problem with this Congress' proposal is how 'currency manipulators' are defined. Many developing countries consider the U.S. itself to be a manipulator because the trillions of dollars it has placed in the banking system through its easy-money policy has depressed the value of the dollar to remain at low levels and raised the country's export competitiveness.

"But that's not how the Americans define manipulation. Fred Bergsten of the Peterson Institute, a main intellectual force behind the Congress move, proposes three tests to determine a currency manipulator: the country possess excessive official foreign currency assets (more than six months of import value); it has acquired significant additional amounts of official foreign assets, implying substantial intervention, over a recent period of six months; and it has a substantial current account surplus. ...

"Bergsten's ideas are extreme, but they [were] cited by Congressman [Sander] Levin when he made his proposal.

"Can the TPPA countries agree to having a currency manipulation chapter in the agreement? If so, the TPPA will contain a very dangerous element and it will also set a dangerous precedent for other future agreements."

LORI WALLACH, (202) 454-5107,, @PCGTW

Wallach is director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. The organization released a statement to reporters covering Obama's trip to Asia which reads, "Obama arrives in Asia without trade authority and with TPP partners Japan and Malaysia aware that the U.S Congress, which has exclusive constitutional authority over trade policy, is increasingly skeptical about the TPP. January 2014 legislation to enact Fast Track authority was dead on arrival in the U.S. House of Representatives. Already in late 2013,180 House members had announced they would never authorize the Fast Track process again; more announced opposition when the bill was submitted. ...

"The TPP's actual terms undercut the false, but conveniently scary, dichotomy posed as a choice between using TPP to impose 'our' rules internationally or living with rules set by China. This argument presumes the TPP to represent 'our' rules, but in fact many of the TPP's terms reflect the narrow special interests of the 600 official U.S. corporate trade advisors that have shaped them. TPP investment rules would promote more U.S. job offshoring and further gut the U.S. manufacturing base that is essential for our national security and domestic infrastructure. TPP procurement rules would ban Buy American policies that reinvest our tax dollars to create economic growth and jobs at home. TPP service sector rules would raise our energy prices and undermine our energy independence and financial stability. TPP drug and copyright terms would raise health care costs and thwart innovation."

FIFA RAHMAN, 011-60-102-566-097,, @fifarahman

Rahman is policy manager at the Malaysian AIDS Council. She said today, "The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is a plurilateral trade agreement involving 12 countries, which among other things contains TRIPS+ [Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights] provisions that will reduce access to affordable medicines. In Guatemala, for example, it was found that TRIPS+ had resulted in a large variance in prices of similar medications, and that several lower-cost generic medicines had been removed entirely from the market. In Jordan, it was found that the delay in entry of generics due to TRIPS+ provisions in their Jordan-U.S. free trade agreement had resulted in the government paying an extra USD$18 million per year. ...

"In the second half of last year, Malaysia (along with three other countries) was offered a differential treatment package based on income status. This means that Malaysia will be exempted from the TRIPS+ provisions until it reaches high GNI per capita status.

"The major myth is that the differential treatment given to Malaysia on intellectual property based on income level makes it a better deal. Despite Malaysia approaching high GNI per capita, in reality the rich-poor disparity is one of the highest in Southeast Asia so people will not be able to afford medications."

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