A document posted online early Wednesday morning reveals the Obama administration intends to give new political powers to multinational corporations, contradicting prior campaign promises. The leaked document was posted on the website of Public Citizen, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy group that has been critical of the administration’s trade objectives.
The most recent leak follows growing controversy surrounding the secrecy of the Trans-Pacific trade talks. Members of Congress, including key Democrats, have complained the secrecy of the trade discussions is insulting.
In addition to growing outrage in Congress, public health experts, labour unions and internet freedom advocates have voiced concern over the secretive negotiation process and the actual terms of the trade pact, which they believe will threaten to drive up global medicine prices, impact jobs and hamper online innovation. The Obama administration’s continued refusal to share Trans-Pacific trade negotiation documents with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the chair of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, has led to concern that Obama is selectively freezing out critics of the deal from involvement in the talks.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has spent months pushing the Obama administration for more openness on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Virtually every non-profit group monitoring the Trans-Pacific deal is concerned about the intense level of secrecy surrounding it. The governments of every nation involved in the talks can see the draft proposals offered by the Obama administration, as can American corporate officials serving on government advisory boards. But the proposals are shielded from the general public, with many nonprofits only made aware of the potential impact on jobs, health or technology through leaked texts.
The terms run contrary to campaign promises issued by Obama and the Democratic Party during the 2008 campaign
“We will not negotiate bilateral trade agreements that stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors; require the privatization of our vital public services; or prevent developing country governments from adopting humanitarian licensing policies to improve access to life-saving medications,” reads the campaign document.
Nearly all of those vows are violated by the leaked Trans-Pacific document. The one that is not contravened in the present document — regarding access to life-saving medication — is in conflict with a previously leaked document on intellectual property (IP) standards.
“Bush was better than Obama on this,” said Judit Rius, U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, referring to the medication rules. “It’s pathetic, but it is what it is. The world’s upside-down.”