Protests in TPP Countries Continue to Emerge

Throughout our in-depth coverage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), we’ve been mentioning some of the many protests that have emerged. While we covered a few of these, we decided to look at some of the other protests that have occurred in other countries as well.

There have been a lot of concerns raised about the controversial TPP. These concerns are wide-ranging. They can be about overhauling Intellectual Property laws, Internet privacy regulations, the environment, general sovereignty, government subsidies, labor laws, and, well, pretty much anything else you can imagine. One way or another, the TPP will likely have an impact on you.

We’ve already covered some of the protests including those found in Australia, New Zealand, and Malaysia. These protests, while significant and meaningful in their own right, only covers a tiny fraction of the protests that have taken place throughout the world.

For instance, many protesters took to the streets in Lima Peru (Spanish). From Peru This Week:

Hundreds marched in Lima, starting in the Campo de Marte, on Friday, in protest of the recently approved Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Social organizations, political parties, among other associations, said that the agreement would have an “enormous negative impact on the future” of Peru, according to El Comercio.

“This march is informative, because this treaty was negotiated by countries in secret and behind our backs, the most affected,” said a mobilizing leader in Lima, according to Telesur.

In Chile, there were other protests that took place. According to free Speech Radio News, the protests included a tomb stone that marks the death of Chilean sovereignty at the hands of the multinationals:

The massive trade deal was hammered out during five years of secret negotiations and will tie together 40 percent of the world’s economy. Supporters of the deal tout its protections for intellectual property rights, its reduction of trade tariffs and its provisions providing legal recourse for companies who find their profits threatened by the laws of member-nations. Opponents of the TPP say it’s a threat to jobs and wages, safe food and affordable medicine. They also caution that the dispute settlement system in the deal gives corporations and investors an end-run around the sovereign right of nations to govern their own affairs.

Claudio Escobar Caseres, a math professor, spoke as the march began, saying, “What’s going to happen is that on February 4, the president will sign this treaty with all the other member nations and Congress will ratify in March. Once the president signs, it’s taken as-is. Congress can’t change any of its contents in terms of anything – be it food sovereignty, territorial sovereignty, intellectual property rights, protections for seeds.”

Legislators and the public got their first glimpse of the thousands of pages that make up the trade agreement in disclosures made by Wikileaks. The full text was not officially made public until early November.

Meanwhile, in the US, protests took place across the country and seem to be getting more coverage in Russia than in the US. From Sputnik News:

Ahead of the signing ceremony in Auckland, activists from the Stop Fast Track movement, protesting against TPP’s secrecy and the speedy approval of the agreement, gathered in the vicinity of the White House. They carried a huge banner reading “TPP = BETRAYAL” and many placards with anti-TPP slogans, such as “TPP will kill the internet,” “TPP ends democracy” and “TPP pleases Wall Street.”

According to the “Flush the TPP” initiative, Wednesday’s rally was part of a series of protests that took place in some 40 US cities, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Denver, San Francisco and Salt Lake City as well as in seven other countries, such as New Zealand, Chile and Peru.

Japan saw many protests over the TPP. In fact, some of these protests date as far back as 2013 where many were, at the time, opposed to Japan being involved in the TPP in the first place. From the report at the time:

About 4,000 people took part in the rally, according to the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA-Zenchu), which is part of the Japan Agriculture group.

The farm lobby, which was joined by seven other groups, including consumer cooperatives linked to the highly state-protected farm and fisheries sectors, has long opposed Japan’s joining the U.S.-led trade talks on grounds that the elimination of tariffs would damage the agriculture sector with an influx of cheap imported produce.

“Anxiety and anger are spreading around us because we have not received a sufficient explanation from the government,” Akira Banzai, head of the union, said in his opening address, calling the TPP “a drastic agreement that will change the way the nation deals with food.”

The union has been arguing against points in a Japan-U.S. joint statement issued in February after Abe met with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington.

These protests in Japan have not slowed down since then. In fact, they only escalated to the point where Japanese people went so far as to sue in a Tokyo report last year. From the report at the time:

Masahiko Yamada, 73, a lawyer and minister in 2010 in the then Democratic Party of Japan government, filed the lawsuit at Tokyo District Court on Friday on behalf of more than 1,000 plaintiffs, seeking to prevent Japan from joining the Trans- Pacific Partnership, he said by phone.

The litigation is another twist in efforts by Japan and the U.S., the top economies among TPP members, to expedite talks on the agreement covering about 40 percent of the world’s commerce. The accord would deepen Japan’s dependence on farm imports and threaten its food security, said Yamada. The nation, which relies on imports for about 60 percent of its food, has cut its self-sufficiency target as the government expands trade deals.

“This is unconstitutional,” said Yamada, who abandoned his party in 2012 over then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s push for the TPP. “We will make maximum efforts to stop it. We want to spread legal actions nationwide.” He said he will organize an anti-TPP rally on May 26 in Tokyo.

One thing is certain in all of this. The TPP protest movement is a global one. As different countries move toward ratification, there will certainly be resistance.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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