The TPP is the new black in the world of international trade negotiations. Forget about GATT, the Doha Round or whatever else you’ve got going on. The Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP is the new New Thing.
One of the key things that distinguishes the TPP from other trade agreements is that companies from TPP member countries have to be treated like local companies. So, for the U.S., that means “Buy American” provisions which might prohibit Vietnamese companies from bidding on a government contract would be waived for that Vietnamese company. Canada would like to be part of the TPP but the big sticking point there is that Canada protects some agricultural sectors — namely dairy and poultry — from foreign competition. If Canadian firms are to get unfettered access to the markets in TPP countries, then TPP countries are going to want unfettered access to Canadian markets. Already, New Zealand wants Canada kicked out of the TPP talks because the Harper government says its sticking to protectionism in agricultural sectors.
So with that background, let’s bring in the Yes Lab, a group which, one might say, shares the same broad goals as the Occupy movement but which has been around longer and which goes about advancing its so-called progressive agenda with a great deal more creativity and wit than the Occupy group. Case in point: Yes Lab’s latest punking of U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, the U.S. government’s lead negotiator on TPP. (His Canadian equivalent is International Trade Minister Ed Fast).
Here’s the Yes Lab blog on this event:
The first action began when a smartly-dressed man approached the podium immediately after the gala’s keynote speech by Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative and former mayor of Dallas. The man (local puppeteer David Goodwin) introduced himself as “Git Haversall,” president of the “Texas Corporate Power Partnership,” and announced he was giving Kirk and other U.S. trade negotiators the “2012 Corporate Power Tool Award,” which “Haversall’s” partner held aloft.
The crowd of negotiators and corporate representatives applauded, and “Haversall” continued: “I’d like to personally thank the negotiators for their relentless efforts. The TPP agreement is shaping up to be a fantastic way for us to maximize profits, regardless of what the public of this nation—or any other nation—thinks is right.”
At that point, the host of the reception took the microphone back and announced that the evening’s formal programming had concluded. But Mr. Haversall confidently re-took the microphone and warmly invited Kirk to accept the award.
Kirk moved towards the stage, but federal agents blocked his path to protect him from further embarrassment. At that point, a dozen well-dressed “delegates” (local activists, some from Occupy Dallas) broke into ecstatic dance and chanted “TPP! TPP! TPP!” for several minutes until Dallas police arrived.
And now, here’s the video. I found it kinda funny:
And a final coda on this: Next month, I’ll be in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for the next meeting of G20 leaders. If it’s like any of the last few G20 meetings I’ve covered, security will be overwhelming, annoying, and inconvenient. This is why….