Protest the TPP free traders

SOME 250 people gathered at the Peace Arch Park on the U.S.-Canada border December 1 to protest the latest round of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPP is a new trade agreement being negotiated--largely in secret--with the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei. It has been described as a major expansion of the North American Free Trade Agreement and is another neoliberal agreement that will ensure profits at the expense of workers' rights and environmental justice.

A leaked chapter of the TPP on intellectual property revealed that the agreement is heavily focused on copyright and patent protection, reminiscent of earlier trade policies that prevented developing countries from producing their own generic HIV/AIDS medications.

"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a corporate rights deal, which threatens workers, farmers, indigenous communities and our planet," said Kristen Beifus, director of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, one of the summit's main organizers. "United people's movements have defeated corporate power grabs like the TPP before, and we plan to do it again this time around."

Attendees at the event represented unions, including the International Association of Machinists District 571 and the Society for Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace; environmental groups like the Sierra Club; and activist organizations including the Philippine-U.S. Solidarity Organization and the International Socialist Organization, among others.

The protest ended with a strategy session for future organizing. Organizers have drafted a tri-national organizational statement of unity, which aims to unite groups in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico in opposition to the trade deal. Protests and actions are also planned for the next round of negotiations as soon as the location and dates are made available to the public.