Joseph Stiglitz on the Trans Pacific Partnership: “This Is A Big Deal”

By:  Alexandros Orphanides

Trade agreements are about more than business—they’re about who has final say in the way people around the world live, what they eat, how much they are paid, what medicines they can buy and whether they have jobs. Such agreements shape economic policies that impact billions of people. The discussions surrounding these agreements are far too important to done in secret. But that’s precisely how the Obama administration is trying to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

What Is TPP?

The TPP is a massive trade agreement between the United States, Canada, Chile, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Observers like Miraya Solis, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, have called it “the most ambitious trade initiative pursued by the Obama Administration.”

Proponents of the TPP argue that the agreement will encourage global economic integration, increase U.S. competitiveness in a “dynamic Asia region” and stimulate political reform leading to more “open” markets. All this, they claim, will result in better jobs, wages and products.

Critics of the agreement say it amounts to the promulgation of corporate globalization and neoliberalization and have likened it to “NAFTA on steroids.” In a recent interview in Salon, Noam Chomsky described the TPP’s aims as to “maximize profit and domination and to set the working people of the world in competition with one another, to lower wages and increase insecurity, ... [and] to protect at the same time ... the top wealth sector.”

In spite of its significance, the mainstream media has not provided little coverage of the TPP. “It’s one of those issues that is deliberately obscured by its proponents," Dan Cantor, National Director of the Working Families Party, says. "When people get a clear explanation, it's like a lightbulb goes off in their head.”

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