By Rose Marcario, Patagonia CEO
It is good to hear that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement has now toned down protections for high pharmaceutical prices and eliminated legal sanctions that help tobacco companies defeat local anti-smoking laws. Better protections for labor, long trumpeted but never delivered in a succession of trade pacts, may well be part of the new language, as well as stronger protections for wildlife from financial exploitation.
Nevertheless, as TPP enters its next phase—ministerial rewrites, a White House push for support from business and the public, an eventual vote in Congress—we remain opposed to TPP, even though we stand to gain financially from potential duty relief within the 12-nation region.
The biggest problem remains the secrecy attendant to the TPP. Its Fast Track authority enables the pact to be negotiated privately, without public comment, until voted by Congress, up or down without amendments, and signed into law. So everything any of us knows about this pact, good news and bad, is second-hand and speculative. That’s the opposite of transparency—and it is weak democracy. We can imagine 20 years from now our children shaking their heads that this practice was once considered acceptable.