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Proposed trade pact faces rejection, detractors warn

By Kevin Dayton

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 05:42 a.m. HST, Nov 13, 2011



While President Barack Obama and participants at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit celebrated progress made on a proposed Asia trade pact, some critics predicted Saturday that deep divisions among the participating nations will doom the current draft of the agreement.

Lori M. Wallach, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, said world leaders at APEC are papering over a growing political backlash in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Peru and Vietnam.

The resistance to the agreement has been sparked by leaked specifics on the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that relate to financial services, the pharmaceutical industry and other areas, she said.

Wallach said she expects the talks aimed at an Asia-Pacific free-trade pact will continue, but many of the current proposals are so unpopular that "I think it is either a new deal, or no deal."

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced Friday that Japan will join the TPP discussions, a move seen as politically risky because Japan uses high tariffs to protect its politically influential farming sector. The proposed free-trade agreement is designed to eliminate tariffs and encourage international trade.

A joint statement released Friday by the leaders of nine nations participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks declared that the effort had reached "a milestone," and the group released a description of the "broad outlines" of an agreement.

"We have committed here in Honolulu to dedicate the resources necessary to conclude this landmark agreement as rapidly as possible," said the announcement from the group, comprising the U.S., Chile, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and Brunei.

The statement included few specifics of the proposal. Wallach said leaked information revealed that provisions are being discussed that, in effect, would stall production of some new generic drugs, or would block the use of drug formularies that include purchasing preferences for cheaper generic drugs for use in government health programs.

Wallach strongly opposes those provisions, and said they are highly controversial in Peru, Vietnam and Australia. Other provisions that would limit regulation of certain financial transactions and services have stirred resistance in Singapore and Malaysia, she said.

Shoko Uchida, co-coordinator of a nongovernmental organization called the Pacific Asia Resource Center, said the TPP is opposed by farmers and others in Japan who believe it would wipe out Japanese rice production.

Uchida is part of a 13-member delegation including a group of farmers who came to Hawaii from Japan to oppose APEC and the free-trade zone. Members of the group joined in an anti-APEC march Saturday from Old Stadium Park to Waikiki.

"If Japan joins TPP, the small farmer can live no longer," she said. She said farming in Japan would be overwhelmed by cheap imports, and that other Japanese industries would be undercut as well.






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Kapakahi wrote:

The fact these governments are unwilling to release to the public the details of the draft agreement shows how arrogant these corporate rulers are. The TPP agreement would trump decisions made by our elected representatives in Congress and our state legislatures. We demand our legislators follow the Sunshine Law before voting on legislation, but these corporate rulers face no such pressure?

Where are the Star-Bulletin editors on this arrogance? They correctly demand our Governor be more transparent in his decision-making, but serve as cheerleaders for APEC. Why the double standard?


on November 13,2011 | 02:19AM
tiki886 wrote:
Decisions made by APEC do not have the power of a "Treaty", so they are not required to discuss any details. Sort of like the Kyoto Protocols. They made plans and suggested ways to implement the protocol but only both Houses of Congress and the Presidency can implement a 'protocol' into law.
on November 13,2011 | 08:13AM
tiki886 wrote:
The Japanese people have been paying the highest prices in the world for their domestically grown rice. A small group of rice farmers have had their monopoly protected under the guise of national "food security" for decades. California rice is less than half the cost. Now when these small rice farmers act as if they are the 'underdog' battling the foreign corporations, are they really looking out for the Japanese people or are they lining their own pockets at the expense of protecting a rice monopoly?
on November 13,2011 | 08:24AM
tiki886 wrote:
The Japanese people have been paying the highest prices in the world for their domestically grown rice. A small group of rice farmers have had their monopoly protected under the guise of national "food security" for decades. California rice is less than half the cost. Now when these small rice farmers act as if they are the 'underdog' battling the foreign corporations, are they really looking out for the Japanese people or are they lining their own pockets at the expense of protecting a rice monopoly?
on November 13,2011 | 08:23AM
cojef wrote:
You are right, but the farm coops represent a large voting block and have dominated the elections for a long, long time. Thus, it would be more convenient for the sake of having some semblence of unity to provide some exceptions, which if does not come into play, will find a defaction from the union. "Protectionism" is a dirty word in this environment, but nevertheless it is ever present.
on November 13,2011 | 10:37AM
butinski wrote:
Agree, but why is there so little anger about our U.S. government giving lavish farm subsidies all these years to wealthy U.S. farmers. Our Dept of Agriculture should have been the 4th department in Perry's cut list - if he could have remembered.
on November 13,2011 | 04:25PM
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