Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) signing in Auckland (New Zealand) on February 4th 2016: time to mobilize public opinion and alert legislators about a further race to the bottom
The TPPA is a far-reaching “trade deal” that was negotiated in secret and finalized by 12 countries on the 5th of October 2015.
The TPPA is between Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the US, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore and New Zealand. If ratified, it would cover 40% of the world’s economy and set the foundation for trade in e-commerce, financial services, property rights, medicine and much more, impacting the lives of millions of workers.
A recent study published by the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University (USA) showed that the TPPA would generate GDP loss in the US and Japan, and employment losses in all TPPA countries with a total of 771,000 lost jobs. According to the same academic study, the TPPA would lead to higher inequality and competitive pressures to push labor incomes lower in developing countries. The TPPA would have far-reaching implications for other parts of the world as well. The loss in GDP (3.77 percent) and employment (879,000) among non-TPPA developed countries would be driven by losses in Europe, while developing country losses in GDP (5.24%) and employment (4.45 million) reflect projected losses in China and India.
For a more detailed analysis of the TPPA text, you can refer to the UNI Global Union Statement that was adopted by UNI affiliates at the World Executive Board meeting on the 11th of November 2015. UNI backs up the ITUC call on TPPA countries not to ratify it and will continue to oppose similar agreements which prioritize corporate interests over those of people and the planet.
The government of New Zealand confirmed that formal invitations have been sent to the Ministers from the 12 TPPA countries to come and sign the TPPA. The official signing ceremony will take place on the 4th of February 2016, in Auckland, at the Sky City Casino, which is a very apt metaphor for an agreement that seeks to bed in the global casino economy.
The official signing will open a 2 year process during which each of the 12 countries will need to ratify the agreement at national level, in most cases with a debate and vote at the Parliament. Therefore civil society, labour and members of the Parliament have a key role to raise awareness about the potential impacts of the TPPA agreement.
At the end of these 2 years, in February 2018, the TPPA can still enter into force 60 days later if 6 signatories representing 85% of the combined GDP of the original signatories have ratified it. Hence, the TPPA could enter into force even with a limited number of participants. But the US ratification will be a deal-breaker as it represents a large share of the combined GDP. If the US does not ratify it, there would be very little chance for this agreement to enter into force.
The TPPA is expected to go through the US Congress later this year, mostly likely in November after the elections. Our US affiliates have already started a campaign on the TPPA and they will need your support when the text comes to the US Congress.
Before that, what will happen in New Zealand on the 4th will be very important. If the Parliament of New Zealand does not ratify this agreement, it will send a very strong political signal to the members of the US Congress.
The level of mobilization that will take place in New Zealand and elsewhere will set the tone for the media coverage of the event on the 4th as well as for the political debate that will start off in the 12 TPPA countries.
The UNI affiliate FIRST Union has been very active coordinating the pro-labour campaign in New Zealand. Four public meetings will take place between now and the signing and a mass protest is being organized in Auckland on the 4th of February.
FIRST Union is urging all UNI affiliates, and in particular the affiliates from the 12 TPPA countries to support the campaign in solidarity with the people and workers who would be impacted by the TPPA. In conjunction with a social justice campaigning group called Action Station, FIRST Union has been circulating an on-line petition on the TPPA. So far just over 41,000 of a goal of 50,000 signatures have been collected. We encourage you to sign it by clicking on this link. New Zealanders will be delivering this petition to Parliament just before the signing, so please add your signature and share widely to make it a collective win. You can also organize a “TPPA free event” and share pictures through the social media during the Media Blitz day on the 3rd of February (see the full agenda and campaign plan here).
UNI Global Union, ITUC and other Global Union Federations will also publish a global statement on the day of the signing, which will be posted on this page.
For now, you will find attached a sign you can use for printing, taking pictures and sharing messages through the social media "TPPA- Don't Sign, Protect Workers, #TPPANoWay" and a poster from New Zealand.
Thank you for your support on this important matter.