As the United States officially walks away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the people must remain vigilant over possible replacements. According to news reports, US President Donald Trump will seek to boost U.S. manufacturing through “one-on-one trade deals with countries that would allow the United States to quickly terminate them in 30 days ’if somebody misbehaves.’”
Trump’s America First policy and the statement above raises alarm bells on the possible replacement of the TPP with equally unfair, or even worse bilateral investment treaties (BITs). Through BITs, American corporations can cement their power to subvert local economies and people’s rights through national treatment, protection from expropriation and performance requirements for investments, and access to dispute settlement mechanisms through investor-state-dispute settlement. Developing countries that would enter into bilateral trade deals with the US remain at the losing end as they are expected to deal with the economic giant on equal terms. The working people of developing countries will bear Trump’s America First trade policy. The new bilateral deals can unleash an onslaught of policies that will end domestic agriculture and local industries, pushing more people into poverty and joblessness.
While it is Trump who signed the papers to withdraw United States from the deal, the TPP was practically put to rest by the strong people’s resistance. The same intensified resistance from the people will be waged against all trade deals that are and will violate people’s rights.