The death of the toxic trade deal TPP was long overdue – but don’t praise Trump for it

Nick Dearden on the death of TPP. This first appeared on Global Justice.

tpp

It’s good news that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead. In fact, the toxic deal – a pacific version of US-EU deal TTIP – was already dead before Trump took office. Popular pressure from trade unions and campaign groups in the US and elsewhere had killed it. Even free-trader Hillary Clinton turned against it during her campaign. So let’s not thank Trump for something which campaigners defeated.

More than that, don’t assume Trump even remotely shares our vision on trade. Yesterday, Senator Bernie Sanders said:

“Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multinational corporations. If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers, then I would be delighted to work with him.”

Trump isn’t serious about helping American workers, you only have to look at some of his other proposals – and his business history – to know that. But more worrying still, pitting the interests of American workers against everyone and everything thing else – workers elsewhere, climate change, public services – takes us in a very dangerous direction.

In the 1930s, many governments responded to the Great Depression by trying to shift their economic problems onto other counties. State’s pushed up tariffs and quotas, competitively devalued currencies, underwrote big business monopolies. These policies aren’t always and everywhere wrong, but in the 30s they were used to  promote exports (and national employment) at the expense of imports (and foreign employment). Other governments retaliated in a downward spiral that eventually fuelled the Second world War.

Trump’s economic theory is not so different. He doesn’t object to the impact of TPP (or the North American Free Trade Agreement) on Mexican workers or farmers, or on the environment, or on inequality. He simply believes American power could be even more blatantly used to force more extreme concessions out of other countries. He believes that the state should work far more closely with big business, in some ways becoming indistinguishable from  it.

Here’s what Trump’s new Commerce Secretary said at his Senate hearing last week:

“I think [Trump] has done a wonderful job pre-conditioning the other countries with whom we’re renegotiating that change is coming. The [Mexican] peso didn’t go down 35 percent on accident; even the Canadian dollar has gotten somewhat weaker — also not an accident.”

Trump is going to use state power to allow big business to even more ruthlessly exploit other countries – not to mention pillaging the environment. No wonder many corporate stocks – fossil fuels, pharmaceuticals, big finance – rose in the wake of his election. When you figure in the deregulation promised for many of those businesses, some of these corporations will do very well from Trump.

Trade in our world has always reflected geopolitical power rather than being ‘free’. We still ‘dump’ products, pushing subsidised goods onto developing country markets at below the cost of production, and wiping out industries and livelihoods in the process. We still promote huge monopolies and allow them to hide behind strict and extreme intellectual property rules. Trump isn’t against this. In fact he wants it to go further.

There are different ways of doing trade. Global Justice Now is working on an alternative trade policy which would allow those negatively affected by trade to take action against big business, which would prioritise human rights, the battle against climate change and the growth of public services, and which would help poorer countries to develop skills and technologies and to develop better labour standards.

Trump stands for the complete opposite of this. So let’s celebrate the death of TPP, but be ready to fight Trump’s trade policy just as hard as we’ve fought free trade policies for the last 30 years.

 

Photo: Backbone Campaign/Flickr


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Left Unity is active in movements and campaigns across the left, working to create an alternative to the main political parties.

About Left Unity   Read our manifesto

ACTIVIST CALENDAR

Events and protests from around the movement, and local Left Unity meetings.

Sat 25 Feb, 10.30
Health Conference, NHS in Crisis – How do we sustain its future?

Organised by SERTUC at TUC Congress House, London, 10.30 – 16.00. Open invite. Free admission and free lunch provided. Registration essential: sertuc@tuc.org.uk 020 7467 1220

 

Sat 4 March, 12.00
It’s our NHS, national demonstration

Theresa May’s demands for yet more austerity in the NHS represent a real risk to the safety of patients and the service. Join this vital demo called by Health Campaigns Together.

More info on their website.

Mon 6 March, 19.30
West London Left Unity, branch meeting

A discussion on Scotland, Wales, N.Ireland, England and Brexit. Introduced by Jim Grealy and Tony Ward.

At the Everybody Active Centre, Acton High Street, W3 6NE

Sun 12 March, 13.30
Russian Revolution Centenary Celebration

1917-2017. Sponsored by Left Unity, at Karibu Centre, 7 Gresham Road, Brixton, London SW9 7PH.

Get tickets here.

17-24 June
Stop Donald Trump’s state visit to Britain

Oppose Trump’s visit. He is a racist and a misogynist and a supporter of torture and a preacher of hate. Event by Public Reading Rooms.

See Facebook for more.

More events »

GET UPDATES

Sign up to the Left Unity email newsletter.

CAMPAIGNING MATERIALS

Get the latest Left Unity resources.

Badges: Stop Trump

Placard and broadsheet: Stop Trump

Broadsheet and Placard: Brexit and Trump, Sound the Alarm

More resources »