Tuesday, November 27, 2012

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Media Blackout?

I've mentioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to a lot of intelligent people, only to get a blank look in return. Apparently, there are people who've never heard of it. Giving this some further thought, I realized that it shouldn't be surprising. If you Google "Trans-Pacific Partnership," you are likely to turn up results that include the phrases like "closed door discussions," "little-known trade agreement."As it turns out, not even members of Congress are allowed to see the draft of the treaty (http://huff.to/NsXgC6)

The purpose of this post is to examine the question of whether media coverage of TPP has been adequate, given the huge (and I believe, quite dire) implications of TPP for the American people. So, I posed the question, "in the last two years, what has the New York Times said about TPP?" Here is a summary of ALL the articles that came up in a search of the paper's archives.

A chronological list over the last 2 years, along with some items that were not reported, is provided below. I'll let you decide.

NOT REPORTED: Dec. 9, 2011: Over 50,000 South Koreans march in protest over TPP. Protestors had to be restrained by force. There are complaints that news media outlets are not covering TPP. TPP is accused of being "anti-parliamentary and anti-democratic."

South Korean protesters
(1) Feb 14, 2011: An article in the Business section reporting on the debate within Japan about the merits of joining TPP.

(2) Feb 28, 2011: An article in the Business section discussing Republicans' resistance to the plan on the basis that, at the time, it excluded Colombia and Panama from the deal.

NOT REPORTED: April 25, 2012. Thousands of Japanese march in protest of TPP.

Japanese TPP protesters

NOT REPORTED: on June 13, 2012, a draft of TPP was leaked to the public, and reveals provisions that will (1)  limit the extent to which U.S. federal and state officials can regulate foreign firms operating within U.S. boundaries, (2) create new incentives for U.S. companies to offshore jobs, (3) allow foreign firms to demand compensation from the U.S. when required to comply with financial or environmental regulations (source: http://bit.ly/Kopu4m).

NOT REPORTED: On June 19, 2012, President Obama issues a press release announcing the TPP partners countries accept the admittance of Canada to the deal. This will increase free trade with Canada beyond levels achieved by NAFTA.

NOT REPORTED: On July 7, 2012, About 250 opponents of TPP march in San Diego. Arrests were made (source: http://exm.nr/MdTeyZ).

American TPP protesters

(3) On July 26, 2011, in the Opinionator blog, Tine Rosenberg points out that TPP will forbid signing nations from setting prices on pharmaceuticals and extend the period of time that pharmaceuticals fall under patent protection.
Filipino TPP protesters
NOT REPORTED: On July 26, 2011, Trade Representative Ron Kirk, in a discussion at the Bretton Woods Committee, points out that TPP must include some financial support for workers who will lose their jobs as a result of TPP (source: http://bit.ly/URtUCC).

(4) On September 28, 2011, in the Opinion pages, C. Fred Bergsten argues that TPP will expand the American economy. Mr. Bergsten is a former assistant Treasury secretary, and served between 1977 and 1981.

(5) On November 11, 2011, in the Asia Pacific section of the paper (hey, we all read that section, right?), it is reported that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will join discussions on TPP. The article also reports that, although Japanese exporters are pleased about the prospect of TPP, Japanese farmers are protesting it on the basis that imports will pose a threat to the very fabric of Japanese society.
New Zealand TPP protesters

(6) On November 12, 2011, in the Asia Pacific section, it is reported that President Obama claims that TPP will benefit South Korea and increase U.S. exports.

(7) On November 15, 2011, in the Asia Pacific section, one may find a single reference to TPP, indicating President Obama's view that it will exclude China and serve as a counterweight to China's trade dominance.

(8) On November 16, 2011, in the Asia Pacific section, a passing reference to TPP in an article concerned with the creation of a Marine Base in Australia.

(9) November 17, 2011. In an article about President Obama's visiting troops in Australia, a reference is made to TPP.

(10) December 27, 2011. In the Opinion section, a contributor makes a passing reference to TPP as one reason for hope that the American economy will improve.

(11) January 10, 2012. In the Business section, there is a passing reference to TPP in an article about Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner's trip to China.

(12) January 20, 2012. In the Business section, President OBama's trade policy is discussed, and TPP is briefly summarized. In an address to business executives at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, the president asserted, "if we are going to grow, it's going to be because of exports."

(13) March 6, 2012. In the Global Business section, it is reported that people in India are alarmed by the fact that President Obama supports tougher patent protections on drugs, even in cases where the result will be an increase in number of deaths from HIV/AIDS. These tougher provisions are included in TPP at the behest of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a lobbying group.

(14). July 8, 2012. In the Asia Pacific section, TPP is discussed briefly in connection with the Obama administration's  increased diplomatic focus on Asian Pacific nations other than China.

NOT REPORTED: Observers have expressed concern that TPP will re-introduce the same forms of Internet censorship attempted by the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) (source: http://bit.ly/zYZGHM). For more information: http://bit.ly/KLqkq7    http://bit.ly/PjSgGi

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