Planet Not For Sale

Lesson 5, Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Erin McKee VanSlooten Author(s) (external):  JoAnne Berkenkamp, Natasha Mortenson, Vanessa Herald File:  F2SCurriculum_Lesson5_IATP.pdf #splash { position: absolute; display: none; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; text-align: center; background: #e0e0e0; opacity: .98; z-index:999; } function MM_preloadImages() { //v3.0 var d=document; if(d.images){ if(!d.MM_p) d.MM_p=new Array(); var i,j=d.MM_p.length,a=MM_preloadImages.arguments; for(i=0; i Close Lesson 5 of the Farm to Youth Leadership Curriculum. Download the full report or individual sections at www.iatp.org/f2s-curriculum.

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Lesson 4, Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Erin McKee VanSlooten Author(s) (external):  JoAnne Berkenkamp, Natasha Mortenson, Vanessa Herald File:  F2SCurriculum_Lesson4_IATP.pdf #splash { position: absolute; display: none; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; text-align: center; background: #e0e0e0; opacity: .98; z-index:999; } function MM_preloadImages() { //v3.0 var d=document; if(d.images){ if(!d.MM_p) d.MM_p=new Array(); var i,j=d.MM_p.length,a=MM_preloadImages.arguments; for(i=0; i Close Lesson 4 of the Farm to Youth Leadership Curriculum. Download the full report or individual sections at www.iatp.org/f2s-curriculum.

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Lesson 3, Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Erin McKee VanSlooten Author(s) (external):  JoAnne Berkenkamp, Natasha Mortenson, Vanessa Herald File:  F2SCurriculum_Lesson3_IATP.pdf #splash { position: absolute; display: none; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; text-align: center; background: #e0e0e0; opacity: .98; z-index:999; } function MM_preloadImages() { //v3.0 var d=document; if(d.images){ if(!d.MM_p) d.MM_p=new Array(); var i,j=d.MM_p.length,a=MM_preloadImages.arguments; for(i=0; i Close Lesson 3 of the Farm to Youth Leadership Curriculum. Download the full report or individual sections at www.iatp.org/f2s-curriculum.

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Lesson 2, Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Erin McKee VanSlooten Author(s) (external):  JoAnne Berkenkamp, Natasha Mortenson, Vanessa Herald File:  F2SCurriculum_Lesson2_IATP.pdf #splash { position: absolute; display: none; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; text-align: center; background: #e0e0e0; opacity: .98; z-index:999; } function MM_preloadImages() { //v3.0 var d=document; if(d.images){ if(!d.MM_p) d.MM_p=new Array(); var i,j=d.MM_p.length,a=MM_preloadImages.arguments; for(i=0; i Close Lesson 2 of the Farm to Youth Leadership Curriculum. Download the full report or individual sections at www.iatp.org/f2s-curriculum.

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Lesson 1, Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Erin McKee VanSlooten Author(s) (external):  JoAnne Berkenkamp, Natasha Mortenson, Vanessa Herald File:  F2SCurriculum_Lesson1_IATP.pdf #splash { position: absolute; display: none; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; text-align: center; background: #e0e0e0; opacity: .98; z-index:999; } function MM_preloadImages() { //v3.0 var d=document; if(d.images){ if(!d.MM_p) d.MM_p=new Array(); var i,j=d.MM_p.length,a=MM_preloadImages.arguments; for(i=0; i Close Lesson 1 of the Farm to Youth Leadership Curriculum. Download the full report or individual sections at www.iatp.org/f2s-curriculum.

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum (all lessons and worksheets)

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Erin McKee VanSlooten Author(s) (external):  JoAnne Berkenkamp, Natasha Mortenson, Vanessa Herald File:  F2SCurriculum_full_IATP_web.pdf #splash { position: absolute; display: none; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; text-align: center; background: #e0e0e0; opacity: .98; z-index:999; } function MM_preloadImages() { //v3.0 var d=document; if(d.images){ if(!d.MM_p) d.MM_p=new Array(); var i,j=d.MM_p.length,a=MM_preloadImages.arguments; for(i=0; i Close Farm to School Youth Leadership Curriculum read more

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TPP Talks Fizzle Again under Broad Opposition

Eyes on Trade - 25 February, 2014 - 14:53

Another high-level Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting has fizzled with no deal.  The talks have missed a succession of deadlines due to opposition from negotiating countries to corporate-backed U.S. demands that would increase the cost of medicines, restrict financial stability measures, and empower corporations to challenge health and environmental safeguards.  Back at home, the administration's attempt to Fast Track the TPP through Congress suffers from overwhelming congressional and public opposition.  

Facing international and domestic resistance, and having already missed deadlines to seal a deal last October and December, TPP trade ministers refrained from naming another deadline after finishing negotiations in Singapore today, stating only that they hope for a deal "as soon as possible."   

Below are statements from members of Congress, Public Citizen, and the Teamsters on the reasons behind the mounting opposition to the beleaguered attempt to Fast Track the TPP. 

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Statement of Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and George Miller (D-CA) 

“To borrow terminology being used by the negotiators in Singapore, there is a “considerable gap” between what is being proposed in the TPP and what the American people and their elected representatives in Congress will allow. Members of Congress were elected to create and protect jobs – not send them overseas by fast-tracking another flawed trade agreement. Twenty years and a million lost jobs after NAFTA, members of Congress and their constituents are skeptical of another trade agreement negotiated in secret that threatens American manufacturing jobs. Recent polling shows that three out of five Americans oppose granting the administration fast-track authority to push through new trade deals.”                                                                         

.                                                             

 Statement of Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) 

Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, issued the following statement in response to the Camp, Baucus, Hatch Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) proposal:  "The Trade Promotion Authority Bill introduced by Senators Baucus and Hatch and Representative Camp falls far short of adequately replacing the failed 2002 TPA model.  In 2007, I worked to develop the "May 10 Agreement" which included the negotiating objectives of labor, environmental and access to medicine provisions. This was not included in the Baucus, Hatch, and Camp proposal.  I will not support their proposal.  As the Ranking Member on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, I have expressed my concerns to the Administration and directly to the U. S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman regarding the outstanding issues, which include labor rights, environmental protections, access to medicines in developing Countries, currency manipulation, food safety measures, Japan's agriculture and automotive sector, and state owned enterprises, to name just a few.  Globalization has intensified dramatically; its impact on American businesses and workers has been profound and major new issues have proliferated.  We must develop legislation that addresses these issues, and the proposed TPA  clearly fails to do this."   

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Statement of Lori Wallach, Director Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

“The spotlight on the Japan-U.S. market access deadlock is obscuring the broader reality that deep divides remain on many TPP chapters while opposition to TPP and Fast Track authority is growing steadily in the U.S. Congress and public.

Other TPP countries remain opposed to outrageous U.S. demands on behalf of corporate interests to extend medicine patents and other terms that would raise medicine costs, ban the use of capital controls and other financial safeguards, limit Internet freedom and expand the scope of the investor-state extrajudicial tribunal system where domestic public interest laws can be attacked by foreign firms. If such terms were included, it would further increase U.S. public and congressional opposition to TPP.

U.S. proposals for enforceable labor and environmental standards and disciplines on state owned enterprise face continuing opposition from other TPP nations, but the absence of such terms would make U.S. congressional approval of the TPP improbable.

U.S. negotiators have not even raised the demand from 60 U.S. Senators and 230 Representatives that TPP must include enforceable disciplines against currency manipulation, yet a TPP without this will be dead on arrival in Congress whether or not there is Fast Track.”

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 Statement of James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Latest TPP News Is Nothing to Celebrate for U.S. Workers 

Any Agreements Struck Won’t Help Save American Jobs, Reduce Trade Deficits

The following is a statement from Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa on the ministerial declaration made today in the wake of the latest Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meetings concluding in Singapore:

“While negotiators want to tout minor progress made during these latest TPP negotiations, the fact is it’s really just Groundhog Day,” Hoffa said. “We’ve heard this story before, and none of it will help create more Americans jobs, stop currency manipulation or keep our food and environment safe. Workers would be no better off from the TPP today than they would’ve been yesterday.

“If negotiators are actually close to closing the deal on TPP, now would be a good time to release the full text of the agreement to the media and the public,” he continued. “It’s time to lay this deal on the table so all can see it.”

Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Obama’s Free-Trade Conundrum

Eyes on Trade - 22 February, 2014 - 05:36

On Wednesday the New York Times published an op-ed by David Bonior, the House Democratic whip during the 1993 vote on NAFTA, on President Obama's stated support for Fast Tracking the NAFTA-style Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress.  Here are a few pertinent excerpts:

...Mr. Obama’s desire for fast-track authority on the T.P.P. and other agreements clashes with another priority in his [State of the Union] speech: reducing income inequality.

This month is the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which significantly eliminated tariffs and other trade barriers across the continent and has been used as a model for the T.P.P. Anyone looking for evidence on what this new agreement will do to income inequality in America needs to consider Nafta’s 20-year record.

While many analysts focus on the number of jobs lost from Nafta and similar pacts — and some estimates say upward of a million — the most significant effect has been a fundamental change in the composition of jobs available to the 63 percent of American workers without a college degree.

...

The Labor Department’s Trade Adjustment Assistance program...reads like a funeral program for the middle class. More than 845,000 workers have been certified under this one narrow and hard-to-qualify-for program as having lost their jobs because of offshoring of factories to, and growing imports from, Mexico and Canada since Nafta.

The result is downward pressure on middle-class wages as manufacturing workers are forced to compete with imports made by poorly paid workers abroad. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly two out of every three displaced manufacturing workers who were rehired in 2012 saw wage reductions, most losing more than 20 percent.

The shift in employment from high-paying manufacturing jobs to low-paying service jobs has contributed to overall wage stagnation. The average American wage has grown less than 1 percent annually in real terms since Nafta, even as productivity grew three times faster.

But the decline in the wages of workers who lost a job to Nafta is only part of the story. They joined the glut of workers competing for low-skill jobs that cannot be done offshore in industries like hospitality and food service, forcing down real wages in these sectors as well.

And, for America’s remaining manufacturing workers, Nafta put downward pressure on wages by enabling employers to threaten to move jobs offshore during wage bargaining. A 1997 Cornell University study ordered by the Nafta Commission for Labor Cooperation found that as many as 62 percent of union drives faced employer threats to relocate abroad, and the factory shutdown rate following successful union certifications tripled after Nafta.

...

The Nafta data poses a significant challenge for President Obama. As he said on Tuesday, he wants to battle the plague of income inequality and he wants to expand the Nafta model with T.P.P. But he cannot have it both ways.

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Administration Desperate to Announce Deal at TPP Ministerial, But What Is a Real Deal?

Eyes on Trade - 21 February, 2014 - 14:38

What Is a Real TPP Deal Versus Kabuki Aimed at Reviving Obama’s Fast Track Push and Framing His Asia Visit?  Public Citizen Publishes Checklist of Outstanding TPP Issues That Require Resolution for a Deal to Be Made

Familiarity with kabuki theatre may be useful in interpreting the outcomes of the  high-level Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) meeting that starts Feb. 22 in Singapore as U.S. officials push for an announcement of a “deal” with the hope of reviving the administration’s quest for Fast Track trade authority and setting the stage for President Barack Obama’s April 2014 Asia trip, Public Citizen said today.

“There is a sense that whether or not any real deal is finalized, there may be an announcement of one, if only to portray the talks as not unraveling despite growing opposition to the TPP in some of the countries involved,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “An announcement also could be a ploy to try to pressure Congress on trade authority and maximize President Obama’s leverage when he visits Japan.”

A bilateral U.S-Japan ministerial meeting last weekend failed to break a deadlock on sensitive agricultural and auto market access issues. Other TPP nations are loath to consider tradeoffs relating to U.S. demands on medicine patents, copyright, state-owned enterprises, financial regulation and other issues on which they face considerable domestic political liability without knowing what market access gains they may achieve in return. A TPP ministerial slated for January was postponed because of the market access deadlock.

“People who follow the TPP closely are baffled about why this meeting is happening,” said Wallach. “Either it is an attempt to improve the optics surrounding the beleaguered talks by announcing some deal, whether or not one is done, or they are afraid that already having postponed this ministers’ meeting once, canceling it would signal that the talks were unraveling.”

Deal vs. kabuki checklist: To actually have a TPP deal, these issues must be resolved:

  • Disciplines Against Currency Manipulation

A TPP without binding currency provisions could be dead on arrival in Congress. The other TPP nations know this but still oppose such terms. While 230 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 60 U.S. senators have written to Obama demanding currency manipulation disciplines in the TPP, U.S. negotiators haven’t initiated negotiations on this, much less secured terms. Among others, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a prominent supporter of past pacts, announced he would oppose the TPP if it does not include enforceable currency disciplines.

  • Enforceable Labor and Environmental Standards

As a January text leak revealed, all other TPP nations oppose many TPP Environment Chapter terms that the United States demands. This includes obligations that, if nations fail to enforce certain environmental agreements that they have signed, they will face TPP enforcement and trade sanctions. Other U.S. bottom lines that face unified opposition are a ban on trade in illegally harvested timber and endangered species, with violations subject to trade sanctions, and enforceable disciplines on fisheries subsidies. Among the TPP countries are those that have led unwavering opposition to disciplines on fishery subsidies, including in the context of the World Trade Organization. More broadly, the other countries have to date rejected the U.S. demand that both the environment and labor chapters be enforceable and subject to the same dispute resolution system as other TPP chapters. These are terms that Congress forced President George W. Bush to include in his pacts. If the Obama administration rolls back the labor and environmental terms included in Bush-signed agreements, it will lose almost all Democratic congressional support for the TPP. In addition, if the labor standards were enforceable, it remains unresolved how the TPP could include Vietnam, one of four countries cited by the Department of Labor for using both child and forced labor in apparel production.

  • State-Owned Enterprises

After years of deadlock during which countries could not even agree on a text from which to negotiate, substantive talks are now under way. However, to complete a deal, either the United States will have to roll back its demands, which would be extremely unpopular in Congress, or a bloc of TPP countries with numerous state-owned enterprises could have to make major concessions.  

  • Intellectual Property Chapter Patent and “Transparency” Text on Medicine Pricing Rules

Most other TPP countries continue to oppose U.S. proposals to expand the scope of patentability, including terms that would promote evergreening, subject surgical procedures to monopoly patents and extend data exclusivity terms that would deliver on Big Pharma’s demands for monopoly powers that raise medicine prices. The powerful American pharmaceutical industry has declared that it will oppose the TPP if the pact reverses extreme provisions in past U.S. Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). A sizeable bloc in Congress has stated that it will oppose the TPP if such terms are included. Another contested issue is the U.S. proposal for a cynically dubbed “Annex on Transparency and Procedural Fairness for Healthcare Technologies” that would allow drug firms to challenge medicine formulary reimbursement and pricing decisions. The target ostensibly was the national health care systems in New Zealand, Australia and other TPP nations that use formulary lists to reduce health care costs. Grassroots and legislator opposition to the U.S. proposal is virulent, making concessions on this issue politically perilous. Big Pharma insists that these terms must extend beyond those contained in the U.S.-Australia FTA. Meanwhile, an increasing number of U.S. state officials and Democratic congressional supporters of the Affordable Care Act also oppose those terms, which could undermine enhanced use of formularies to reduce U.S. health care costs.

  • Copyright Extensions

Hollywood- and recording industry-inspired proposals that would greatly extend copyright durations, limit innovation, restrict access to educational materials and force Internet providers to act as “copyright police” by cutting off people’s Internet access (think of the SOPA/PIPA debacle) have triggered public outrage in numerous TPP countries, leading to a negotiation stalemate. The United States has continued to demand that the TPP be used to require countries to adopt domestic copyright terms beyond international norms and aggressive copyright and enforcement provisions that would limit the public domain and Internet freedoms. A bloc of countries remains solidly opposed to various elements of these demands. There also is entrenched disagreement about whether copyright should be able to keep works of art and literature out of the public domain for 70 years after death of the author. No resolution is in sight.

  • Financial Regulation and Capital Controls

With the International Monetary Fund endorsing the use of capital controls to avoid floods of speculative capital that cause financial crises, it’s no surprise that there is united opposition among other TPP countries to a U.S. demand that the TPP include a ban on the use of various commonsense, macro-prudential measures, including capital controls and financial transactions taxes. While the United States has objected to an exception allowing the use of such measures, other TPP nations have stated they will not agree to a TPP that prohibits the use of such measures.

  • Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)

Australia has maintained an exception to being submitted to ISDS, which elevates individual corporations to equal status with sovereign nations and allows them to enforce a public treaty by “suing” national governments for compensation before international tribunals comprised of private-sector attorneys over claims that government actions undermine their expected future profits. The National Conference of State Legislatures, the body representing the 50 U.S. state legislative bodies, has adopted a policy of opposing any trade agreement with investor-state enforcement. The United States is demanding all countries submit to this system. Even those TPP nations that have agreed to investor-state enforcement oppose the U.S. demand that government natural resource concessions, private-public-partnership utility management contracts and procurement contracts be subject to such extra-judicial processes. The other countries also oppose a U.S. demand that the investor-state terms apply “pre-establishment” – creating a right to investment, including acquisition of land. The United States has consistently opposed an exception supported by most other TPP nations that would safeguard domestic environmental, health and other policies from the TPP tribunals.

  • Mechanism for the TPP to Go into Effect

Agreement on the legal mechanisms required for implementing the TPP has proven extremely elusive. A standard provision in the implementing legislation of past U.S. trade agreements requires that, after the U.S. Congress ratifies the pact, the president withhold formal written notification of that approval from partner countries until the president certifies that the partner countries have altered their own laws and policies to comply with the trade deal. That is to say, even after both the United States and its trade partners have ratified an agreement, it takes effect only after the United States unilaterally certifies that its partners have changed domestic laws according to U.S. demands. TPP nations argue the certification process gives the U.S. government and corporations enormous leverage to force them to conform to American interpretation of trade agreement terms – some of which are often deliberately vague, opaque and contentious. This process also often delays implementation of agreements.

Sensitive Market Access Issues

  • Agriculture: Japan’s parliament has listed five “sacred” commodities that must be excluded from TPP tariff-zeroing: rice, beef/pork, wheat, sugar and dairy. The United States, Australia and other TPP nations have rejected these exclusions. Australia wants U.S. access for its sugar exports, a demand that the United States rejected in its bilateral FTA with Australia. The United States has declared it will not negotiate new market access with countries with which it already has FTAs – in no small part to avoid the wrath of the politically powerful U.S. sugar industry, which has strong support among Democrats and Republicans in Congress. New Zealand’s main TPP demand is increased access to American and Canadian markets for its massive dairy export industry. But with dairy farmers in many U.S. congressional districts, a large bloc of Democrats and Republicans strongly oppose this demand. Yet, despite its refusal to negotiate market access with its current FTA partners, the United States has demanded access for dairy products in Canadian markets – a condition it couldn’t secure in the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and that Canada has also rejected for the TPP.
  • Autos: The U.S. Congress insists that Japan be subject to a special bilateral agreement providing certain additional concessions relating to auto trade, insurance and access for U.S. beef. While the Abe administration agreed to this demand, the bilateral pact – a U.S. condition for Japan being included in a final TPP deal – has not been finalized, with negotiations on auto trade issues especially mired.
  • Government Procurement: The United States wants national government contracts above a set threshold be made available to firms from all TPP countries on equal terms. But many Democratic and GOP members of Congress oppose any waiver of Buy American preferences, which would be required to implement this rule. The U.S. demand has also raised broad opposition in Malaysia, where its bumiputerapolicy” – which guarantees a portion of government procurement contracts go to ethnic Malays – is key to preventing a recurrence of violent attacks against the country’s ethnic Chinese population, which dominates its business sector. Other TPP nations want the United States to guarantee that their firms will get the same access to the 50 U.S. states’ procurement activities as they would provide to U.S. firms, which U.S. negotiators have refused.
  • Apparel and Shoes: Vietnam has insisted on duty-free access for its clothing made with inputs from China and other non-TPP nations, and the elimination of U.S. tariffs on footwear. The “rule of origin” Vietnam requests would reverse a long-standing “yarn forward” rule included in past U.S. pacts to support U.S. jobs. If honored, Vietnam’s demand would increase the uncertainty that Congress would approve the TPP.
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New York Times: Obama's TPP-Promoting Mexico Visit Is "Politically Fraught"

Eyes on Trade - 19 February, 2014 - 18:54

A New York Times story today on Obama's trip to Mexico tomorrow underscores a point we made last week: Obama's visit with the leaders of Mexico and Canada shines a spotlight on NAFTA's 20-year legacy of damage, casting a long shadow on Obama's unpopular attempt to Fast Track through Congress the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping pact built on the NAFTA model.  The Times reports:

The whirlwind visit...will offer Mr. Obama a chance to reassure his counterparts about his capacity to deliver at a time when he faces significant hurdles at home. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leaders in Congress, oppose legislation giving him authority similar to that of his predecessors to negotiate trade deals.

That ill-favored legislation is an attempt to revive Fast Track, the Nixon-era maneuver that empowered the executive branch to unilaterally negotiate and sign sweeping "trade" deals, locking in the contents before Congress got an expedited, no-amendments, limited-debate vote.  In addition to Pelosi and Reid, most House Democrats, a bloc of House Republicans, and about two out of three U.S. voters oppose the administration's current push to renew Fast Track so as to skid the controversial TPP through Congress. 

Among the reasons for the broad opposition to a Fast-Tracked TPP is the 20-year legacy of NAFTA.  For many people throughout North America, NAFTA's damage has been tangible: job losses, wage stagnation, displaced livelihoods, unsafe food, and exposure to toxins.  The Times cited our comprehensive report, released last week, that details the empirical record of NAFTA's damaging first twenty years: 

But even two decades after Nafta, debate still rages about its merits or drawbacks. Ms. Wallach’s group released a report last week compiling government data to argue that not only did Nafta’s promised benefits not materialize, but that many of the results were the opposite of what was promised, citing lost jobs, slower manufacturing and large trade deficits.

It is the lived experience of NAFTA, not an abstract ideology, that has prompted 53 percent of the U.S. public to say that we should “do whatever is necessary” to “renegotiate” or “leave” NAFTA.  Seeing such opposition, Obama promised to renegotiate NAFTA as a presidential candidate in 2008.  His current push to Fast Track the TPP represents a stunning flip-flop that threatens to replicate the very NAFTA-style damage that Obama criticized on the campaign trail.  Incredibly, Obama administration officials are now trying to sell the TPP as honoring Obama's renegotiation promise -- an Orwellian move that our own Lori Wallach has been quick to counter.  The Times reports: 

Michael B. Froman, the president’s trade representative, tried to reassure Democrats on Tuesday that the administration would be sensitive to their concerns about workplace and environmental standards in putting together the new trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. He noted that as a candidate, Mr. Obama promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as Nafta.

“And that’s exactly what we’re doing in TPP, upgrading our trading relationships not only with Mexico and Canada but with nine other countries as well,” Mr. Froman said in a speech at the Center for American Progress, a liberal research group in Washington.

That assertion drew scorn from critics. “I don’t think that expanding on the Nafta model and extending it to nine more nations was what the unions, environmental groups or Democratic Party activists had in mind when Obama said he would renegotiate Nafta,” said Lori Wallach, a trade expert at Public Citizen, a liberal advocacy group.

The administration's TPP sales pitch is unlikely to convince the broad majority of the U.S. public that wants to renegotiate NAFTA and halt a NAFTA-expanding TPP.  If NAFTA's two-decade legacy of tumult and hardship makes it politically impossible to Fast Track through Congress the TPP, it would constitute a unique benefit of an otherwise damaging deal.

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Fact-checking Froman: The Top 10 Myths Used by Obama’s Top Trade Official

Eyes on Trade - 19 February, 2014 - 15:10

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman tried in a speech yesterday to defend the Obama administration’s beleaguered trade policy agenda: the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) pacts and an unpopular push to Fast Track those sweeping deals through Congress.  The list of those publicly opposing the Fast Track push includes most House Democrats, a sizeable bloc of House Republicans, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and 62% of the U.S. voting public

In attempt to justify the administration’s polemical pacts, Froman resorted to some statements of dubious veracity, ranging from half-truths to outright mistruths.  To set the record straight, here are the top 10 Froman fables, followed by inconvenient facts that undercut his assertions and help explain the widespread opposition to TPP, TAFTA, and Fast Track.

1. Access to affordable medicines

  • Froman:  “[In TPP] we’re working to find better ways to foster affordable access to medicines…” 

2. Income inequality

  • Froman:  “Our trade policy is a major lever for encouraging investment here at home in manufacturing, agriculture and services, creating more high-paying jobs and combating wage stagnation and income inequality.”
  • Fact:  First, study after study has shown no correlation between a country’s willingness to sign on to TPP-style pacts and its ability to attract foreign investment, casting doubt on Froman’s promise of a job-creating investment influx.  But more importantly, Froman opted to ignore a big part of why U.S. workers are currently enduring such acute levels of “wage stagnation and income inequality.”  He did not mention the academic consensus that status quo U.S. trade policy, which the TPP would expand, has contributed significantly to the historic rise in U.S. income inequality.  The only debate has been the extent of trade’s inequality-exacerbating impact.  A recent study estimates that trade flows have been responsible for more than 90% of the rise in income inequality occurring since 1995, a period characterized by trade pacts that have incentivized the offshoring of decently-paid U.S. jobs and forced U.S. workers to compete with poorly-paid workers abroad.  How can the TPP, a proposed expansion of the trade policies that have exacerbated inequality, now be expected to ameliorate inequality? 

3. Internet freedom

  • Froman:  “I’ve heard some critics suggest that TPP is in some way related to SOPA [the Stop Online Piracy Act].  Don’t believe it.  It just isn’t true….”
  • Fact:  Froman’s attempt to assuage fears of a TPP-provided backdoor to SOPA-like limits on Internet freedom would be more convincing if a) he offered details beyond “it just isn’t true,” or b) if his statement didn’t directly contradict leaked TPP texts.  A November leak of the draft TPP intellectual property chapter revealed, for example, that the U.S. is proposing draconian copyright liability rules for Internet service providers that, like SOPA, threaten to curtail Internet users’ free speech.  Indeed, while nearly all other TPP countries have agreed to a proposed provision to limit Internet service providers’ liability, the United States is one of two countries to oppose such flexibility.

4. Corporate trade advisors

  • Froman:  “Our cleared advisors do include representatives from the private sector… [but] they [also] include representatives from every major labor union, public health groups…environmental groups…as well as development NGOs...” 
  • Froman:  “I’m pleased to announce that we are upgrading our advisory system to provide a new forum for experts on issues like public health, development and consumer safety.  A new Public Interest Trade Advisory Committee, or PTAC, will join the Labor Advisory Committee and the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committees to provide cross-cutting platforms for input in the negotiations.”
  • Fact:  Froman’s announcement of a new “public interest” committee – a response to the outcry over the vast imbalance of this corporate-dominated advisory system – offers too little, too late. Amid a slew of advisory committees exclusively devoted to narrow industry interests, the “public interest” now gets a single committee?  And how much influence will this committee have in changing the many core TPP provisions that threaten the public interest, now that the administration hopes to conclude TPP negotiations, which have been going on for four years, in the coming months?  Proposed as a TPP afterthought, this new committee comes across as window-dressing, not a genuine restructuring of a system that gives corporations insider access to an otherwise closed trade negotiation process.

5. Fast Track

  • Froman:  Fast Track is “the mechanism by which Congress has worked with every administration since 1974 to define its marching orders on what to negotiate…”  We can use Fast Track to “require[] future administrations to require labor, environmental and innovation and access to medicines [standards]…”
  • Fact:  Under Fast Track, Congress has not given the administration “marching orders” so much as marching suggestions.  Though Congress inserted non-binding “negotiating objectives” for U.S. pacts into past Fast Track bills – a model replicated in the unpopular current legislation to revive Fast Track for the TPP and TAFTA – Democratic and GOP presidents alike have historically ignored negotiating objectives included in Fast Track.  For example, Froman stated that Fast Track could be used to require particular labor standards.  But while the 1988 Fast Track used for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) included a negotiating objective on labor standards, neither pact included such terms.  The history shows that Fast-Tracked pacts that ignore Congress’ priorities can still be signed by the president (locking in the agreements’ contents) before being sent to Congress for an expedited, ex-post vote in which amendments are prohibited and debate is restricted. 

6. Currency manipulation

  • Froman:  In response to a question of whether currency manipulation is being addressed in the TPP: “We take the issue of exchange rates or currency manipulation very seriously as a matter of policy…”
  • Fact:  U.S. TPP negotiators have not even initiated negotiations on the inclusion of binding disciplines on currency manipulation, much less secured other countries’ commitment to those disciplines.  The U.S. inaction on currency in the TPP contrasts with letters signed by 230 Representatives (a majority) and 60 Senators (a supermajority) demanding the inclusion of currency manipulation disciplines in the TPP.  Unless U.S. negotiators take currency manipulation more “seriously,” the TPP may be dead on arrival in the U.S. Congress. 

7. Labor rights

  • Froman:  “In TPP we’re seeking to include disciplines requiring adherence to fundamental labor rights, including the right to organize and to collectively bargain, protections from child and forced labor and employment discrimination.” 
  • Fact:  The TPP includes Vietnam, a country that bans independent unions.  And Vietnam was recently red-listed by the Department of Labor as one of just four countries that use both child labor and forced labor in apparel production.  While Froman acknowledged such “serious challenges,” he did not explain how they would be resolved.  Is Vietnam going to change its fundamental labor laws so as to allow independent unions?  Is the government going to revamp its enforcement mechanisms so as to eliminate the country’s widespread child and forced labor?  Barring such sweeping changes, will the U.S. still sign on to a TPP that includes Vietnam?  

8. Environmental protection

  • Froman:  “We’re asking our trading partners to commit to effectively enforce environmental laws…”
  • Fact:  While Froman touted several provisions in the draft TPP environment chapter as requiring enforcement of domestic environmental laws, he didn’t mention the draft TPP investment chapter that would empower foreign corporations to directly challenge those laws before international tribunals if they felt the laws undermined their expected future profits.  Corporations have been increasingly using these extreme “investor-state” provisions under existing U.S. “free trade” agreements (FTAs) to attack domestic environmental policies, including a moratorium on fracking, renewable energy programs, and requirements to clean up oil pollution and industrial toxins.  Tribunals comprised of three private attorneys have already ordered taxpayers to pay hundreds of millions to foreign firms for such safeguards, arguing that they violate sweeping FTA-granted investor privileges.  Froman’s call for countries to enforce their environmental laws sounds hollow under a TPP that would simultaneously empower corporations to “sue” countries for said enforcement.

9. TPP secrecy

  • Froman:  “Let me make one thing absolutely clear: any member of Congress can see the negotiating text anytime they request it.”
  • Fact:  For three full years negotiations, members of Congress were not able to see the bracketed negotiating text of the TPP, a deal that would rewrite broad swaths of domestic U.S. policies.  Only after mounting outcry among members of Congress and the public about this astounding degree of secrecy did the administration begin sharing the negotiating text with members of Congress last June.  Even so, the administration still only provides TPP text access under restrictive terms for many members of Congress, such as requiring that technical staff not be present and forbidding the member of Congress from taking detailed notes or keeping a copy of the text.  Meanwhile, the U.S. public remains shut out, with the Obama administration refusing to make public any part of the TPP negotiating text.  Such secrecy falls short of the standard of transparency exhibited by the Bush administration, which published online the full negotiating text of the last similarly sweeping U.S. pact (the Free Trade Area of the Americas). 

10. Exports under FTAs

  • Froman:  “Under President Obama, U.S. exports have increased by 50%...”  “Today the post-crisis surge in exports we experienced over the last few years is beginning to recede.  And that’s why we’re working to open markets in the Asia-Pacific and in Europe...”
  • Fact:  U.S. exports grew by a grand total of 0% last year under the current “trade” pact model.   The year before that, they grew by 2%.  Most of the export growth Froman cites came early in Obama’s tenure as a predictable rebound from the global recession that followed the 2007-2008 financial crisis.  At the abysmal export growth rate seen since then, we will not reach Obama’s stated goal to double 2009’s exports until 2054, 40 years behind schedule.  Froman ironically uses this export growth drop-off to argue for more-of-the-same trade policy (e.g. the TPP and TAFTA).  The data simply does not support the oft-parroted pitch that we need TPP-style FTAs to boost exports.  Indeed, the overall growth of U.S. exports to countries that are not FTA partners has exceeded U.S. export growth to countries that are FTA partners by 30 percent over the last decade.  That’s not a solid basis from which to argue, in the name of exports, for yet another FTA. 
Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Change in grain policy signals China’s intent to boost meat production

Subtitle:  New research highlights global implications for food safety, food security and natural resources Language:  English IATP author(s):  Andrew Ranallo Shefali Sharma File:  2014_02_18_ChinaIndMeat_PR.pdf WASHINGTON, D.C.  – China’s announcement last week to relinquish its historic grain self-sufficiency policy signals a major boost to the country’s meat, dairy and feed sectors as Chinese companies go global. China’s transition to an industrial, resource-intensive model of livestock production could have major implications around the world, impacting farmers, public health and the environment, according to a new series of reports from the...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Change in grain policy signals China’s intent to boost meat production

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Andrew Ranallo File:  2014_02_18_ChinaIndMeat_PR.pdf WASHINGTON, D.C.  – China’s announcement last week to relinquish its historic grain self-sufficiency policy signals a major boost to the country’s meat, dairy and feed sectors as Chinese companies go global. China’s transition to an industrial, resource-intensive model of livestock production could have major implications around the world, impacting farmers, public health and the environment, according to a new series of reports from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP). The series, Global Meat Complex: The China Series, looks in depth at China’s feed, pork, poultry and dairy sectors, the past and future trajectory of the industry, and global impacts...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

China’s Pork Miracle? Agribusiness and Development in China’s Pork Industry

Author(s) (external):  Mindi Schneider with Shefali Sharma File:  2014_02_25_PorkReport_f_web.pdf Executive summary Agriculture has helped fuel the “China miracle.” Since 1978, agricultural and food output has soared, Chinese agribusiness firms have become key players in domestic and international markets, and by all accounts, China has been highly successful in overcoming land and resource constraints to feed its population of 1.3 billion people. The country is celebrated for its successes in reducing poverty and hunger over the last 30 years, and more recently, for creating an agrifood system that makes eating “high on the hog” a possibility and reality for many Chinese people. Pork is at the heart of this miracle. A hallmark of the post-1978 agricultural development model is ramping up the production, sale, and consumption of meat....

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Fair or Fowl? Industrialization of Poultry Production in China

Language:  English Author(s) (external):  Chendog Pi, Zhang Rou, Sarah Horowitz, Eds., Shefali Sharma, Ben Lilliston File:  2014_02_25_PoultryReport_f_web.pdf Executive summary Poultry meat and eggs were not traditionally an important part of the Chinese diet. They were considered luxury goods for consumption on special occasions. Over the past three decades, however, China’s per capita poultry consumption has increased from barely 1kg to over 9kg per year. Today, the poultry industry in China is dominated by chicken production which comprises 70 to 80 percent of all poultry production. On a macro level, by 2011 the country was already the second largest producer of poultry meat and eggs in the world and the size of the industry continues to expand. This report tracks the growth of the...

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The Need for Feed: China’s Demand for Industrialized Meat and Its Impacts

IATP author(s):  Shefali Sharma File:  2014_02_25_FeedReport_f_web.pdf Executive summary China’s need for feed and the globalized supply chain of the industrial livestock industry is contributing to land use change in China and abroad. It is transforming the government’s approach to grain self-sufficiency, land-based investments abroad and its policies on trade in meat versus feed. The Shuanghui (now called the WH Group) acquisition of Smithfield is an example of one clear way in which global meat companies are responding to and seeking to profit from China’s exploding demand. This paper presents an overview of China’s feed “needs” and its feed sector. It also examines the critical linkage between China and the Americas in procurement of feed and highlights the impacts that a growing Chinese demand for meat (and hence...

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China’s Dairy Dilemma: The Evolution and Future Trends of China’s Dairy Industry

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Shefali Sharma Author(s) (external):  Zhang Rou File:  2014_02_25_DairyReport_f_web.pdf Executive summary The past three decades have seen both dairy production and consumption in China soar, averaging a 12.8 percent annual growth rate since 2000. This boom in both production and consumption has had critical consequences for both Chinese small dairy producers and consumers as the power of a few large dairy processors and fierce competition among smaller processors “on the fringe” have shaped the dairy value chain. Government policy is a key factor in understanding the ongoing transformation of the dairy sector in China: there appears to be a strong belief that economies of...

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Categories: Planet Not For Sale

Fair or Fowl? Industrialization of Poultry Production in China

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Shefali Sharma Ben Lilliston Author(s) (external):  Chendog Pi, Zhang Rou, Sarah Horowitz, Eds. File:  2014_02_25_PoultryReport_f_web.pdf Executive summary Poultry meat and eggs were not traditionally an important part of the Chinese diet. They were considered luxury goods for consumption on special occasions. Over the past three decades, however, China’s per capita poultry consumption has increased from barely 1kg to over 9kg per year. Today, the poultry industry in China is dominated by chicken production which comprises 70 to 80 percent of all poultry production. On a macro level, by 2011 the country was already the second largest...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Categories: Planet Not For Sale

China’s Dairy Dilemma: The Evolution and Future Trends of China’s Dairy Industry

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Shefali Sharma Author(s) (external):  Zhang Rou File:  2014_02_25_DairyReport_f_web.pdf Executive summary The past three decades have seen both dairy production and consumption in China soar, averaging a 12.8 percent annual growth rate since 2000. This boom in both production and consumption has had critical consequences for both Chinese small dairy producers and consumers as the power of a few large dairy processors and fierce competition among smaller processors “on the fringe” have shaped the dairy value chain. Government policy is a key factor in understanding the ongoing transformation of the dairy sector in China: there appears to be a strong belief that economies of...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Categories: Planet Not For Sale

China’s Pork Miracle? Agribusiness and Development in China’s Pork Industry

Language:  English IATP author(s):  Shefali Sharma Author(s) (external):  Mindi Schneider lead author File:  2014_03_26_PorkReport_f_web.pdf Executive summary Agriculture has helped fuel the “China miracle.” Since 1978, agricultural and food output has soared, Chinese agribusiness firms have become key players in domestic and international markets, and by all accounts, China has been highly successful in overcoming land and resource constraints to feed its population of 1.3 billion people. The country is celebrated for its successes in reducing poverty and hunger over the last 30 years, and more recently, for creating an agrifood system that makes eating “high on the hog” a possibility and reality for...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
Categories: Planet Not For Sale