We are taking a moment to celebrate the defeat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which came at the tail end of 2016. While we were grappling with the many heart-sinking implications of a Trump administration, this victory was a bright light of hope.
But let’s be clear. Donald Trump did not kill the TPP, despite the media hype. This is a victory that belongs to the people, and will benefit people everywhere — across ideological, geographical, and partisan lines. It is a victory for the many different movements dedicated to protecting people and the environment from corporate abuse.
The TPP, a disastrous trade agreement developed by and for corporations to pad their profits and dramatically increase their already overwhelming power, would have set a life-threatening standard for global trade.
But instead, the broad cross-partisan movement that came together to oppose the TPP set a new standard. A standard that makes clear that trade agreements that put corporations before people are not acceptable.
This movement also set a new standard for how people and organizations can come together from around the world to defeat tremendous corporate power. Many of the organizations we worked in coalition with have laid this victory out in great detail.
But in the simplest terms, people power defeated this massive, years-in-the-making trade agreement. Tenacious grassroots and community organizing by a broad coalition of social change organizations defeated this agreement. People mobilizing actions in their local congressional districts, calling their members of Congress, showing up to and speaking out at town hall meetings, writing letters to the editor and op-eds — all the great ways that people can show up, take action, and make sure democracy works as it should — defeated this agreement. This people-powered organizing happened not only in the U.S. but also in the 11 other TPP negotiating countries, and it was all led by organizations in the Global South.
Corporate Accountability International is grateful to our members who took action year after year and proved to be a key force in the movement that defeated the TPP. Together, we made the TPP the most toxic trade deal ever negotiated. Had it not been for this popular, global resistance, the TPP would have become law years before Trump even announced his candidacy. We simply cannot give this victory to Trump.
Thank you to all who joined us to protest at your local state house, make those calls, write to your representatives, and submit those letters to the editor opposing the TPP. You made a big difference. We hope you take a moment to celebrate by checking out this short video created by our partners at Public Citizen. It features videos from people around the world who joined together to defeat the TPP — including Corporate Accountability International staff and members!
Over the days, months, and years ahead, we will regularly need to remind ourselves of this victory. There is an unprecedented and massive corporate power grab for control of our government. While Trump opposed the TPP, he did so for the wrong reasons. Our friends at the South Centre have written some good analysis about what a Trump trade policy could look like — for the U.S. and for the world. Trump has already proposed alternatives to the TPP that would still greatly threaten human rights and environmental protections.
We will need to remind ourselves that people power can and will overcome the entrenched power of corporate interests over our democracy. The same movement that overcame the TPP can and must remain vigilant to protect this generation, and future generations, from bad trade deals. We will not sit back and let the expansion of corporate power happen — we have to stand up. We did with the TPP, and we can do it again.