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US-Style Free Trade in Good Hands with Michael Froman

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 04 May 2013


US-Style Free Trade in Good Hands with Michael Froman


by Stephen Lendman


On May 2, Obama named Froman his new US trade representative. He's a former Harvard law school classmate. He's currently a key adviser. More on him below.


He replaces Ron Kirk. He served from March 2009 - March 2013. He's joining Gibson Dunn. It's a prominent US law firm. It advises global clients. It's ranked among the top 20 doing it. It's prominent attorneys and alumni include Theodore Olson and Ken Starr.


Kirk said he wants to stay "engaged in global commerce." He wants the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement completed by yearend. It's a trade deal from hell. 


Public Citizen's Lori Wallach heads its Global Trade Watch division. It monitors destructive trade deals like TPP. She calls it "NAFTA on steroids." It's been cleverly misbranded.


It's being secretly negotiated. Most people never heard of it. Media scoundrels ignore it. Whatever corporations want they support.


According to Wallach, TPP's "a stealthy delivery mechanism for policies that could not survive public scrutiny."


It provides Trojan horse cover for "grandiose new rights and privileges for corporations and permanent constraints on government regulation."


It favors investors at the expense of public health, food safety, clean air and water, sovereign control of resources, land use, energy, and virtually everything else that smells money, power and privileges afforded both.


"The stakes are extremely high because TPP may well be the last 'trade' agreement Washington negotiates." If enacted, other countries can join. If enough do, it'll be a global "NAFTA on steroids."


Member countries will sacrifice national sovereignty. Their laws, regulations and rights will be subordinated to TPP rules. Their use of tax revenues will also be restricted.


Rule-breakers face TPP tribunal lawsuits and sanctions. Corporations will be empowered to sue countries outside their domestic courts. Private sector attorneys will become judges and juries. 


TPP is unfair trade by any standard. Trade is its least important feature. Washington has plenty of deals with other countries. TPP reflects raw, unchallenged, supranational corporate power.


Kirk was Obama's point man to advance it. He represents entrenched power at its worst. Froman will pick up where he left off.


He served on Obama's campaign transition team. He's been Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Economic Affairs. He was responsible for coordinating policies on international trade, investment, energy, climate and development issues.


He was White House liaison to the G7, G8, G20, and APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summits. He heads the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate. He co-chairs Washington's Transatlantic Economic Council. He's CEO of the US-India and US-Brazil Forums.


He helped negotiate South Korea, Colombia and Panama trade deals. Like NAFTA and other bilateral deals, they cost America tens of thousands of jobs. Expect more of the same ahead.


Under Clinton, Froman was Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin's chief of staff. He also served as deputy assistant Eurasia and Middle East secretary. His responsibilities included post-Soviet Russia and Eastern Europe economic policies. 


He was involved in implementing economic components of the Dayton Accords. Washington and key European allies partitioned and colonized Bosnia. A sovereign country was destroyed.


Former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt was appointed High Representative. He was given "final authority in theater regarding interpretation of the agreements."


From 1999 - 2009, Froman was Citigroup Management Corp. managing director. He managed infrastructure and sustainable development investments. He was CitiInsurance president and CEO. He headed the bank's Emerging Markets Strategy.


He's a Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow and German Marshall Fund of the United States resident fellow.


He was the American Bar Association's Central and East Europe liaison. He's been a member of the European Commission's Forward Studies Unit. 


As US Trade Representative (USTR), he'll continue working on TPP and ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). It threatens Net Neutrality and free expression. 


He'll also begin negotiating the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). On February 13, Obama, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission head Jose Manuel Barros announced its official launch. 


It's also called the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). It's not new. Trans-Atlantic free trade was discussed earlier. Informal discussions went no further.


America and EU nations partnered in global agreements. They never before finalized one with each other. BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, South Africa, and China) are excluded. 


They're some of the world's fastest growing economies. Their combined GDP matches America and EU nations. Both blocks may vie for economic and political supremacy. 


According to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, at stake is "the weight of the western, free world in world economic and political affairs."


Europe and America must reconcile longstanding differences. Replicating the worst of TPP matters most. Investor interests come first.


According to a joint US/EU announcement, negotiations will focus mainly on "regulatory and other non-tariff barriers." Expect secrecy to prevent public disclosure. Otherwise unpopular terms won't likely survive.


Earlier transparent negotiations failed. In 2001, Free Trade Area of the America (FTAA) details were released. Legislators, civil society groups, academics and others analyzed them. Alternative provisions were proposed. 


The deal wasn't concluded. Washington learned a lesson. Secrecy became policy. Negotiations now skirt public oversight. Back room dealmaking defines TPP. Expect TAFTA to proceed the same way.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 


His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."


Visit his blog site at 


Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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