Social opposition plus growing criticism from business sectors

A war of uncommon pressures in the TPP

North American business sectors are not happy with the turn of the negotiations, while unions and other social movements call into question the very model of free trade.

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The TPP is going through a critical moment.  Although the avalanche of propaganda and false governmental and transnational optimism has attempted to conceal the social struggle of political pressure, the dykes of contention have broken.


Since the TPP (Trans-Pacific Agreement) is a project promoted by the interests of trans-national capital, the resistance of unions and social organizations is quite natural, but not so the uncommon protests and even threats by powerful transnational business groups from the NAFTA area.


There has been highly visible protest by unions from Canada, the US and Mexico, from the automobile and auto parts sector, due to the threat of major job losses in the industry and in connected businesses, as a result of the intended reduction of the minimal requirement for the quantity of material originating in the region, that will generate a tsunami of imports from other countries.


At the same time, the associations of auto and auto parts manufacturing from these three countries, with concerns similar to those of the unions, have raised their voices and are looking for support of powerful legislators of the US and Canada, in the favourable context of a pre-electoral climate. (i)


Meanwhile, in the face of the ideological fundamentalism and the deafness to social demands that characterizes the governmental negotiators and their transnational advisors, who insist on maintaining their positions in order to conclude the agreement,(ii) new and powerful corporate voices are waylaying these efforts.


As technocrats love to speak about "value chains", on September 21, the ministers of the three countries received a letter signed by the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), the Canadian Steel Producers Association (CSPA) and the Mexican Iron and Steel Industry Chamber (Canacero).(iii) The message is simple: "There have been reports that a lower content of regional value for automobiles and auto parts is under consideration in the TPP. Our members strongly oppose this".


One day later, union confederations from NAFTA submitted another letter to the overly discreet trade minsters, advising them that, rather than concerning themselves with concluding negotiations on the TPP, they should "reject the corporative trade agenda and in its place give priority to the lives and livelihoods of the working families of North America"(iv).


The proposal contained in the Letter of the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the Canadian Labour Congress and the National Workers’ Union (UNT) of Mexico, is that the TPP should:


"Promote a solution to the deficit in decent work (according to the ILO, including freedom of association and other fundamental worker rights, social security, job stability, and social dialogue) in a sustainable way, rebuild our economies by strengthening the domestic market, increasing the purchasing power of workers, and overcome the asymmetries between our countries through equitable distribution of productive work." (See the complete text in the final Appendix).


In spite of the traditional promises of neoliberal negotiators that they would under no circumstances accept anything that would adversely affect the interests of workers, as was stated explicitly by Ed Fast, Canadian Minister of Trade, the members of the biggest union in the private sector of Canada, FIOR (automobiles), decided to take direct action on the flanks by asking for a public definition from the present conservative candidates (of the present government, whose continuation is at risk) concerning their position on the TPP (v).


Previously, Mexican businessmen who survived NAFTA, such as those of the castigated and catatonic textile and confection sector, as well as those in sugar and dairy products, had expressed to the media their concern over the course of the negotiations (vi), but several of them, taking part in "the green room" of the negotiations, continued to have confidence – whether ingenuously or opportunistically – in the possibility that the Mexican negotiators would support them so that they would suffer less harm.


Many other small and medium businesses, grouped in the Asociación Nacional de Importadores y Exportadores de la República Mexicana (ANIERM) have asked the federal government to "open up participation for small and medium businesses, because they are the most representative, and that the dialogue and the agreements should not concentrate only on the bigger companies" (vii).


While others, such as the Asociación Mexicana de Laboratorios Farmacéuticos (Amelaf) and the Asociación Mexicana de Fabricantes de Genéricos (Amegi) (pharmaceutical sector) have rejected the agreement on intellectual property and the transnational proposals for patents (viii), while the digital industry through the Asociación Mexicana de Internet (Amipci) (ix) calls for freedom of the Internet and rejects reforms to the Law of Industrial Property, under the TPP parametres.


Both sectors have also opted to build hemispheric alliances with their global colleagues (the International Generic Pharmaceutical Alliance) and civil networks such as the Mexican chapter of the Internet Society, Article 19, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Latin American and Caribbean Internet Addresses Registry (LACNIC) (x), among other Latin American networks.


This buildup of social pressures may help to understand why the resident of the White House telephoned the President of Mexico on September 23, and immediately and atypically, they both announced publicly (xi) that "They had discussed the situation of the negotiations of the Transpacific Strategic Agreement of Economic Association and the importance of bringing them to a rapid conclusion".


Nevertheless, nothing is decided, not even with the transnationalised neoliberals in power in Mexico.  Uncertainty remains, due, on the one hand, to the fact that the credibility of the Mexican government is at a new low, given the failure of the promises of structural reforms, so that it is very difficult even for "big" business to put up with a new and obvious lie about free trade, or to think the majority of the people would support it.


On the other hand, unaccustomed protests and pressures are also coming from organizations and businesses that are part of the "powers that be", those that have sustained and until now benefitted from the dominant political economy. These are businessmen located in key sectors of the exporting model. It is not for no reason that the Mexican Ambassador to Canada, in the context of a highly controverted electoral campaign, declared, in an usual gesture, to the Canadian press that "it is a priority for Mexico to preserve the automobile sector in the TPP negotiations”.  (xii). We are thus in a situation where Mexican oligarchs coincide with their counterparts in Canada and the United States in seeing a threat to their plans and fortunes in the present orientation of the TPP.


They include businessmen on the infamous Forbes list, and powerful masters of successful businesses, key members of powerful economic sectors, such as auto parts, or traders (in particular, A. Madero Bracho-RASSINI), steel companies (A. Ancira Elizondo-AHMSA, Rufino Vigi Gpo-ICH) sugarcane companies (J. Gallardo Turlow-Cultiba-Gpo Azucarero Mexico) and dairy companies (Eduardo Tricio Haro-Gpo Lala), several of them ex-presidents or partners in the business group that negotiated NAFTA and other treaties. These opponents of the present course of the TPP negotiations are outstanding members of the oligarchic Council of Businessmen and of the Directorate of the powerful Grupo Carso, headed by transnational multimillionaire Carlos Slim, all involved in the financial network that has made them members of the shadow government of Mexico.


Just as Obama has lost political power needed to impose the TPP, not only through burnout in the exercise of power, but also due to the growing hegemony of other political-financial and social forces, Peña Nieto and his helmsman Idelfonso Guajardo Villareal (Economic Secretary), keeping the proportions, have to weigh very carefully whether to continue betting on the past or to recognize that those that they represent have no interest in losing what they have gained for a mega-FTA project that does not represent them in a satisfactory way.


Thus the TPP continues to be uncertain, but the war continues and the people must take advantage of these contradictions, and above all, increase their head-on opposition to this model. For the people, this is not only a question of changing aspects or terms of the negotiation, but of abandoning a model left to market forces, that is to say, to the law of the jungle.  As RMALC (the Mexican Network for Action against Free Trade) and other social networks have declared: the problem is not only the terms of the negotiation but the very model of free trade.


Mexico City, September 25 2015


(Translated for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)



- Alejandro Villamar / Mexican Network for Action against Free Trade - RMALC




i Auto talks underway as TPP clock ticks down. Peter Mazereeuw. Last Updated: Tuesday, 09/15/2015

(Open letter from MEMA, the AMPA and the Mexican National Automotive Parts Association to TPP Negotiators from Canada, the United States and Mexico. Sept. 8)


ii Canada must be part of Pacific pact, automakers might suffer: PM. Thu Sep 17, 2015 10:33pm EDT


iii Demand to replicate the NAFTA rules of origin in the TPP.  Steel workers of Mexico, US and Canada demand that the level of 62.5% applied among these countries be maintained, in the face of the position of the governments of the US and Japan to reduce it to 50%. Roberto Morales. 23/09/2015  | 23/09/2015


Canada heads to TPP talks in Atlanta with key auto content issue unresolved. Steve Chase. Sep. 23, 2015 The Globe and Mail.


iv No Amount of Negotiations Make TPP a Good Deal for Working People. September 24, 2015


v Unifor, autoworkers want Tory candidates to state views on Trans-Pacific Partnership. CBC News Posted: Sep 23, 2015


vi AHMSA amenaza con segundo recorte si SE no detiene acero chino. 24.06.2015

Piden en TPP igualdad para México. Verónica Gascón / (July 16 2015)

Busca industria textil protegerse en el TPP. Ulises Díaz / (29 julio 2015)

Utilizará México las cuotas para TPP. Ulises Díaz / (August 5 2015)

Complican Vietnam y EU a textileros mexicanos en TPP. Ulises Díaz / (August 17 2015)

Productores de azúcar de México buscan limitar acceso de Australia a EU en TPP. Reuters. 08.09.2015

Temen impacto en azúcar por TPP. Frida Andrade / (August 14 2015)

Piden 10 años de arancel para arroz. Frida Andrade / (August 14 2015)


vii México apuesta a una mayor integración con América del Norte. Notimex /12.08.2015.


viii Genéricos diluirán éxito en México con nuevo Acuerdo Pro Patentes. Octavio N. Cervantes. 16/05/ 2014

TPP retrasará entrada de 5 mil medicamentos genéricos en México. Ilse Santa Rita. 19.06.2014

Reclaman a Guajardo derechos de autor. Dayna Meré / (July 8 2015)

Busca TPP extender patentes a 28 años. Norma Zúñiga / (September 1 2015)

TPP: ¿por qué quieren ampliar las patentes? Gustavo Leal F.


ix TPP y leyes de propiedad intelectual preocupan a industria de Internet. Julio Sánchez Onofre. 07/04/ 2015.


x Prometen "socializar" TPP ante acusaciones de secrecía .. Julio Sánchez Onofre. 03/08/2015


xi Dialogan los presidentes Enrique Peña Nieto y Barack Obama. (23-09-2015)

Obama y Peña Nieto discuten aspectos del Acuerdo TPP. Reuters. Forbes Staff 23/09/2015


xii Auto talks underway as TPP clock ticks down. Negotiators must meet before October, says Mexican ambassador. 15/09/2015.







No Amount of Negotiations Make TPP a Good Deal for Working People


Tuesday, September 22, 2015


As TPP negotiators scramble in San Francisco to find common ground, North America’s working people ask them to think hard about what they are scrambling to save. So far, the TPP appears to:


  • Cede auto supply chain jobs to other countries both inside and outside the TPP—negotiators’ public statements indicate that they aren’t even considering a content requirement for autos and auto parts that meets the NAFTA rule, let alone exceeds it;
  • Contain no enforceable rules to address currency misalignment—a tool other TPP countries can use to make their exports cheaper while crowding out North American exports;
  • Give companies access to a private justice system in which they can seek taxpayer compensation for laws and rules that might affect their expected profits—an extraordinary legal right that is not only intended to promote the offshoring of jobs, but is a right explicitly denied to those seeking to vindicate labor rights and environmental protections nominally guaranteed under the deal

So far, the TPP appears to be little more than a set of rules that promote outsourcing and benefit outsourcers.  We urge TPP negotiators to reject the corporate trade agenda and instead put the lives and livelihoods of North America’s working families first.


The TPP must:


Promote a solution to the deficit in decent work (according to the ILO, including freedom of association and other fundamental worker rights, social security, job stability, and social dialogue) in a sustainable way, rebuild our economies by strengthening the domestic market, increasing the purchasing power of workers, and overcome the asymmetries between our countries through equitable distribution of productive work.


Richard Trumka, President, American Federation of Labor & Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
Hassan Yussuff, President, Canadian Labour Congress (CLC)
Mario González Aguilera, Co-President, Unión Nacional de Trabajadores
Agustin Rodríguez Fuentes, Co-President, Unión Nacional de Trabajadores
Francisco Hernández Juárez, Co-President, Unión Nacional de Trabajadores
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