"Another chapter in the tale of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a secret international trade deal being pushed by the Obama administration and described by critics as “NAFTA on steroids” — has once again been Wikileaked. This one deals with the environment, and it shows that, by and large, the US is caving on environmental standards it had previously set for international trade agreements.
Environmental groups say the protections that are included in the document are weak — and, furthermore, that the pact contains no enforcement mechanisms. This breaks with recent precedent — in 2007, Bush reached an agreement with congressional Democrats that required environmental provisions in trade agreements to be legally binding.
“The lack of fully-enforceable environmental safeguards means negotiators are allowing a unique opportunity to protect wildlife and support legal sustainable trade of renewable resources to slip through their fingers,” said Carter Roberts, president and CEO of the World Wildlife Fund. “These nations account for more than a quarter of global trade in fish and wood products and they have a responsibility to address trade’s impact on wildlife crime, illegal logging and overfishing.”
The TPP is a deal negotiated by the US, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Brunei, Australia, Vietnam, Peru, Malaysia, Canada, Mexico and Japan. The complete text has not been released to the public, but the Obama administration is rushing to get it finalized as part of a strategic “pivot to Asia.” The agreement had previously been criticized for increasing corporate control over the Internet, copyrights and patents and potentially having the same negative effect on the US job market as NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement entered into 20 years ago.
The administration has billed the environmental chapter of TPP as a counter to the agreement’s extensive corporate privileges, but after reading the newly leaked document, environmental groups said it would be ineffectual. “If the environment chapter is finalized as written in this leaked document, President Obama’s environmental trade record would be worse than George W. Bush’s,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “This draft chapter falls flat on every single one of our issues — oceans, fish, wildlife and forest protections — and in fact, rolls back the progress made in past trade pacts.”"