Protests Embolden TPP Delegates To Resist Controversial American Proposals

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“We seek to forge a path toward a new kind of trade agreement, one that bolsters human rights, local economies, democracy and stewardship of the planet for future generations.” 

SALT LAKE CITY – Boisterous protests outside the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations in Salt Lake may not have much influence on the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, but they are drawing interest from some of the 11 other delegations. It appears that the growing American domestic opposition to the TPP could be bolstering attempts by some nations to stand up to ‘bullying’ by the U.S. Trade Representative.

During protests outside the Grand American Hotel on Tuesday and Wednesday, where talks are taking place,  a number of delegates including some Latin American nations and Japan came out of the Grand American Hotel to watch the protests and take photos. A few delegates spoke with protest organizers, expressing gratitude and complained that the language of the TPP is a creation of the USTR being forced on the other nations.

“The delegates I spoke to expressed gratitude for our work and affinity for our concerns about replacing human rights with investor rights,” said Bill Moyer, executive director of the Backbone Campaign.  “I called out to one group to stand up to U.S. bullying and they shouted back, ‘we’re doing our best!’”

A broad Coalition of national and local labor, environmental, consumer rights and civil society groups calling themselves the TPP Welcoming Committee have organized protests every day of this week’s negotiations.

“One of the main reasons we’re here is to support nations who are standing up to bullying from the U.S. in these negotiations,” said Moyer. “We’re here to show delegates that it is time for them to assert their leadership by rejecting “investor” or “corporate rights” and forge a path toward a new kind of trade agreement, one that bolsters human rights, local economies, democracy and stewardship of the planet for future generations.”

Since last week’s release of the intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership by watchdog group WikiLeaks, controversy over the trade deal has picked up. Last tuesday, a bi-partisan coalition of 174 members of Congress have come out in opposition to granting the President fast track authority for the treaty. That same week protests against the TPP were organized in 13 cities across the United States. Since negotiators began talks in Salt Lake City this week a number of commentators have begun to question if the deal would collapse due to Congressional opposition.

“We’ve always believed that this deal can’t survive public scrutiny,” said Moyer. “The response to last week’s disclosure shows that the more people know about the TPP, the less likely it is to get approval in the US or elsewhere.”

Opposition in Congress and a growing domestic protest movement against TPP in the United States could be encouraging some nations to distance themselves from American negotiating positions. Leaked documents show that the United State’s is becoming increasingly isolated in the negotiations. A statistical analysis of negotiating positions performed by Gabriel Michael, a Ph.D. candidate at George Washington University, shows the United States is relatively isolated in the talks. The U.S. is also frequently the sole proponent or opponent of clauses in the document, following only Canada.

“Delegates told me they feel this is ‘The U.S. Trade Representative’s agreement’, not theirs,” said Moyer “We believe that protests in Salt Lake and around the country have bolstered the resolve of some nations to oppose U.S. proposals that would undermine human rights, environmental protections, and national sovereignty.”

The negotiations wrap up in Salt Lake City this Sunday. Observers now say that U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman will not be able to keep his promise to conclude the deal before the end of the year, and a growing number have begun to speculate that the entire trade deal could fall apart soon

“Whether its from domestic opposition or failure of the negotiations, one way or another we will stop this ill-conceived agreement.” said Moyer.

Photos of Protests Available Here: 

http://www.flickr.com/photos/backbone_campaign/10985342026/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/backbone_campaign/sets/72157637897139694/