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The TPP: what it means for you

The TPP: what it means for you

tppAustralia will have only 20 days to decide whether to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Read some of these key articles: tell your MP what you think.

The TPP: what it means for you

he Trans-Pacific Partnership could destroy the customary framework of liberties and rights in Australia, as a by-product of giving foreign corporations extraordinary new powers, including the right to challenge Australian law if it doesn’t suit their marketing plan. This is what the Philip Morris cigarette company is doing by taking Australia before a Hong Kong court over our plain packaging laws.

The TPP has been under negotiation for many years by Australian Labor and Liberal governments: soon it will go before the parliament with the shortest possible time – maybe only 20 days – for people to tell MPs what they think about it.

If you want to be informed, and to make your view known to your local MP and to parliament, the following articles/video give a broad-ranging rundown on how the TPP (and its cousin the European Union, the TTIP) might affect indivdiuals.

The bibliography has been compiled by Pauline Westwood, a member of Civil Liberties Australia

 Select annotated bibliography on TPP

 Australian Council of Trade Unions

ACTU Submission to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, 21 June 2010

 Australian Fair Trade Investment Network

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Corporate power versus peoples’ rights (AFTINET: Australian Fair Trade Investment Network)

Baker, Dean

Obama Teams Up with Big Business to Push Through Horrible Secret Trade Deal 21 Jan 2014 / Dean Baker

Obama administration and corporate lobbyists pressuring Congress to allow fast-tracking of the TPP. However, tariff barriers with these countries are already low.  The TPP is really about putting corporation-friendly structures in place. The agreement will overrule federal, state and local authorities, stripping democratically elected representatives of their powers.  The final agreement may limit the regulation of fracking. US law already prohibits governments from inquiring into the chemicals being used to frack, making it difficult to check groundwater pollution levels.  This law is likely to be forced on all signatories.  Despite the lessons which should have been learned from the global financial crisis, banking and financial regulation will be restricted, putting savings at risk.

Key point: May reduce capacity to monitor and regulate fracking in all signatory countries, with possibly disastrous results to water supplies.

Bill Moyers on the TPP free trade agreement is death for democracy, 5 Nov. 2013 (Interview)

Chomsky, Noam

Obama Trade Deal a ‘Neoliberal Assault’ to Further Corporate ‘Domination’  (Video interview) Posted: 13 Jan. 2014

Maintains that this is not a free trade agreement, but rather a highly protectionist measure to increase corporate profits and lower wages, by setting working people in competition with each other.  The copyright chapters are mainly to benefit communications conglomerates and “big pharma”.  Benefits will be shared amongst the 1%, mainly in the US, but also in Russia and China.  The rest of the world will be relegated to the condition of the “precariat”, because we will struggle to find secure employment and enough income to survive.  Currently in the US, about 40% of the population is living below the poverty line.  This increases every time a new “free trade” agreement is signed. Poverty levels will increase in signatory countries along with increases in income inequality.

Daly, Angela

What will the Trans Pacific Partnership mean for copyright? 18 Nov. 2013 / Angela Dalu (Inside Story)

When WikiLeaks published the August 2013 draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement’s chapter on intellectual property earlier this month, it was the first time anyone outside an inner sanctum of negotiators had seen any of the text since a previous leak in early 2011 (except, it seems, for corporate lobbyists). The TPP negotiations continued over the intervening two-and-a-half years, but so too did legislative action in the countries involved. The latest leak reveals inconsistencies between the draft text and trends in national law-making, and highlights a mixed performance by Australia’s negotiating team.

Dorling, Philip

Australians may pay the price in Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement: a leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal looks to have worrying intentions, 14 Nov. 2013 (SMH)

Extract: Australians could pay more for drugs and medicines, movies, computer games and software, and be placed under surveillance as part of a US-led crackdown on internet piracy, according to details of secret trade negotiations exposed by WikiLeaks. A leaked draft of a controversial chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement reveals the negotiating positions of 12 countries including Australia on copyright, patents and other intellectual property issues, with a heavy focus on enforcement measures against internet piracy.  Intellectual property experts are critical of the draft treaty, which they say would help the multinational movie and music industries, software companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers to maintain and increase prices by reinforcing the rights of copyright and patent owners, clamping down on online piracy, and raising obstacles to the introduction of generic drugs and medicines.

Faunce, Thomas A

Trans Pacific Partnership agreement favours foreign investors over citizens’ rights / Thomas A. Faunce (Canberra Times 4 Jan. 2014)

Extract: “The Australian government has no mandate to introduce such a significant change in our sovereignty and governance. Though the present author and others raised the issue of such greater rights of foreign investors over local businesses during the preceding electoral campaign, it was never the subject of major policy debate or positioning.  The insertion of such foreign investor rights into our governance system is a momentous event in the history of our democracy. According to the central document in our social contract, fundamental alterations in Australia’s governance arrangements require not just legislation but a referendum. Thus, a majority of Australian citizens in a majority of states were needed to support the creation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or the citizenship of Aboriginal Australians.  Yet, as a result of the TPPA, this country risks displacing the authority of citizens who live and support families, friends, local communities and ecosystems in this land, in favour of a system privileging artificial people called corporations.”

 Gerard, Leo

Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Fast Track to Poverty

American workers need a new trade philosophy, one that protects them and puts people first, not corporations. Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be a disaster.

Gleeson, Deborah

Trade talks set to undermine access to medicines for the world’s poor, 16 Sept. 2011 / Deborah Gleeson

The US trade representative released a white paper Trans Pacific Partnership Goals to Enhance Access to Medicines (copy hot-linked to full text) claiming the agreement would increase access to medicines.  On the same day, US tabled the restrictive intellectual property provisions that will raise the cost of medicines considerably and delay the time when cheaper generic versions can be made available.  Claims that White Paper is just spin.  Extending patent period will make new drugs inaccessible to poor in developing countries. The cost of new medicines is many times higher than generics.  Example from Medecins sans Frontieres – HIV/AIDS drug for one person for one year would go from $295 (generic) to $10,000 (new drug). Pharmaceutical companies will be able to make minor changes and label the product a new drug with consequent new patents (known as “evergreening”). Signatory countries will have to amend their laws to remove public right to object to new patents being granted.  However, these facts not revealed in the White Paper mentioned above. Key points: Impact on drug prices for all; particularly disastrous effect on the poor.  Dangers of the practice of “Evergreening”

Gleeson, Deborah

Trans Pacific Partnership puts member countries health at risk, 9 May 2013 / Deborah Gleeson (The Conversation)

Opening up domestic markets to food imports affects national diets, by altering availability and quality of foods. Often local produce is overwhelmed by imports.  Can lead to poor nutrition, obesity and chronic diseases.  FTAs have usually led to more imported food, and often to food high in saturated fats and calories and poor in nutrients.  In some Pacific countries, trade agreements undermined local agricultural production causing strong reliance on imports. According to research, foreign direct investment leads to increases in soft drink consumption increasing incidence of chronic diseases.  This agreement will allow greater industry involvement in food policy and lessen ability of countries to protect the health of their citizens. During the Auckland round Malaysia suggested restricting information companies need to supply about ingredients.  This was supported by the US.

Gleeson, Deborah

Trans-Pacific Partnership rules could block alcohol warnings, 24 July 2013 / Deborah Gleeson (The Conversation)

New rules for alcohol labelling discussed at Malaysia meeting. Public health groups in Australia concerned that the agreement might block public health warning on containers.  The cost of alcohol related harm in 2010 was $36 billion. Warning labels are believed to reduce alcohol-related harm.  Voluntary labelling such as the system introduced by DrinkWise have not worked – only 16% of samples contained any labels at all, and the labels generally were not given much prominence.  The chapter entitled Technical Barriers to Trade imposes two problems.  First, countries may not be able to implement new policies that have not yet been tested.  The second is that the text in the TPP about alcohol products seems likely to be modelled on the World Wine Trade Group agreement (full text has hot link). This agreement limits the right of a country to specify where labels should be located.

 Gleeson, Deborah

Update from the latest Trans Pacific Partnership Meeting, 12 Dec. 2013 / Deborah Gleeson (The Conversation)

Update on TTP negotiations during 4 days’ ministerial meetings in Singapore. Against expectations, the three year negotiations weren’t concluded. Singapore sessions unusually secret – no academics, NGOs allowed in.  Meeting broke into small groups to negotiate problem areas.  Leaked draft IP chapter showed US still held firm about expanded and extended copyright and patent protection and exclusive rights to clinical trials.  Australia had earlier insisted on retaining integrity of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, but leaked news now suggested support for the PBS and other previously held positions had weakened. Then Minister Andrew Robb announced he might accept ISDS in return for access to markets.  Key point: Apparent weakening of Australian position during Singapore round, Dec. 2013.

Gleeson, Deborah

What you need to know about the Trans Pacific Partnership, 6 Dec. 2013 / Deborah Gleeson (The Conversation)

Written as ministers about to meet in Singapore, 12 Dec. 2013. Intended to finally iron out remaining areas of dispute.  Pressure for compromise. Concerns about lack of transparency and of political sensitivity of some sections. Australian Senate issued order for release of draft pre-signature, consumer magazine Choice raised petition, and the Australian Free Trade and Investment Network raised concerns.  Background.  TPP began with free trade agreement in discussion among Brunei, New Zealand, Chile and Singapore. (Pacific 4 of just P4). In 2008 the US joined along with others. In 2010 TPP negotiations began. Level of secrecy unprecedented. In addition to a few chapters on trade, there are many relating to domestic policy. Major changes to drug and other patents, copyright and internet access. 13 Nov. Wikileaks released draft Intellectual Property chapter. Obviously favours US interests to detriment of other countries. All parties signed confidentiality agreement. Very limited opportunity for stakeholder input, without benefit of seeing the text. Main concerns: Health and environment. Cost of medicines expected to rise. Medecins Sans Frontieres called this the most harmful trade pact ever for access to medicines in developing countries.” Of great concern is the Investor-State Dispute Resolution clause.  Enables foreign corporations to sue governments if their profits are or may be affected by government laws, policies or regulations. Key point: Concerns expressed by Australian Senate and civil society.

Hakim, Danny

European officials consulted business leaders on trade pact, 8 Oct. 2013

Extract: Long before trade negotiations began with the United States this summer, European officials were consulting with business leaders from both sides of the Atlantic on how to structure a free-trade pact. Internal documents obtained by The New York Times offer a window into the extent that European trade negotiators allow big business lobby groups to set the agenda. Among other things, the business community was seeking an active role in writing new regulations — the trans-Atlantic rules that might one day cover things like how poultry is cleaned and how trade secrets are protected.

Haraldsson, Hrafnkell

Secret negotiations TR[a]P our rights, June 28 2012

Note: Full copy hot-linked.

From stopthetrapnet.

“Why the secrecy? We know from leaked documents [3] that the TPP includes what amounts to an Internet trap that would:

1. Criminalize [4] some of your everyday use of the Internet,

2. Force service providers to collect and hand over your private data without privacy safeguards [5], and

3. Give media conglomerates more power to fine you for Internet use, [6] remove online content—including entire websites—and even terminate [7] your access to the Internet.

4. The TPP would create a parallel legal system of international tribunals that will undermine national sovereignty and allow conglomerates to sue countries for laws that infringe on their profits.

The TPP’s Internet trap is secretive, extreme, and it could criminalize your daily use of the Internet. You could be fined for simply clicking on the wrong link. We deserve to know what will be blocked, what we and our families will be fined for.”

And from Electronic Frontier Foundation

“In short, countries would have to abandon any efforts to learn from the mistakes of the U.S. experience over the last 12 years, and adopt many of the most controversial aspects of U.S. copyright law in their entirety. At the same time, the U.S. IP chapter does not export the limitations and exceptions in the U.S. copyright regime like fair use, which have enabled freedom of expression and technological innovation to flourish in the U.S. It includes only a placeholder for exceptions and limitations. This raises serious concerns about other countries’ sovereignty and the ability of national governments to set laws and policies to meet their domestic priorities.”

 Henning, Peter

Tell me a story …about free trade Jan. 13 2014 / Peter Henning (Tasmanian Times)

Extract: Australia has entered into free trade agreements with a number of countries, but before the Abbott administration came to power previous governments refused to include ISDS mechanisms in those agreements, for obvious reasons.  The history of these agreements between multinational companies operating in South America is indicative of the risks. Some estimates are that as many as 500 lawsuits have been brought against Latin American governments by US corporations. A typical recent example is US mining company Renco suing the Peruvian government for $800 million after the government withdrew a license for a smelter operating in a notoriously polluted area.  Examples are reminiscent of the exploitation of poor countries by the agents of the powerful and wealthy through time immemorial.  The basic principles enshrined in ISDS mechanisms are to override national regulations on environmental protections and human health safeguards.

Incorrect claims about investor-state dispute settlement, 3 Oct. 2013 / European Commission

Claim: Investor-state dispute settlement undermines public choices (e.g. Vattenfall challenging the German moratorium on nuclear power, Philip Morris challenging Australia’s plain packaging regime for cigarettes)

Response: It is important to note that only well-founded cases have a chance of being successful. The fact that a policy has been challenged does not mean that the challenge will be successful. The EU will negotiate in such a way so as to ensure that legislation reflecting legitimate public choices e.g. on the environment, cannot be undermined through investor-state dispute settlement. Experience with investor-state dispute settlement up until now confirms that tribunals do not consider it appropriate to undermine public choices.

Note: A glance at the list of cases currently being undertaken contradicts these claims by the EC

 Investment Protection and Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement in EU agreements, Fact sheet Nov. 2013 / European Commission

There seem to be disparities between what actually happens and what governments tell corporations on the one hand, and what the European Commission tells the public.

Kelsey, Jane

Trans-Pacific Partnership’s toothless environment chapter gets the Wikileaks treatment, 24 Jan. 2014  (The Conversation)

Extract: Environment chapters are often mere fig leaves, used to deflect criticisms. So it’s no surprise that the TPP’s environment chapter is weak, lacking measures for enforcement or dispute. They are not meant to act as an antidote. So the leaked chapter confirms our expectations that the “gold standard” rules are only for the corporations, not to protect people and the planet. But if the agreement does happen, a strong chapter could be important.  That leads to the third and most significant point from the leaks. The chair’s commentary shows the US is the outlier on most of the disputed provisions. That includes articles that refer explicitly or by implication to international agreements it has not signed, such as the Kyoto Protocol, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.But the most important outlier is the refusal of all the other governments to agree that even these weak obligations should be enforceable by trade sanctions under the dispute mechanisms that apply to the agreement as a whole. Instead, they have proposed a mixture of consultations, political discussions, and arbitration that leads to a conclusion about a breach and an action plan – but nothing to enforce it.

Khor, Martin

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA): When Foreign Investors Sue the State, Nov. 10 2013 / Martin Khor (Third World Economics)

In most US free trade agreements ISDS provisions, the tribunal most mentioned is the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an arbitration court under the World Bank in Washington Any foreign investor from TPP countries can make a claim that a government has not met its TPP obligations.  If it succeeds, the tribunal could award the investor financial compensation. If payment is not made, the award can be enforced through the seizure of assets of the government that has been sued, or through tariffs raised on the country’s exports.  “Investment” includes credit, contracts, intellectual property rights (IPRs), and expectations of future gains and profits. Investors can make claims on losses to these assets. Under the “national treatment” provision, a foreign investor can claim to be discriminated against if a local investor is given preference or other advantage. Conflict of interest.  Australia has also been sued for billions of dollars by the tobacco company Philip Morris because of its regulation that cigarette boxes cannot promote the logo and brand names. An American company Renco sued Peru for $800 million because its contract was not extended, even after the company’s operations caused massive environmental and health damage.

 Leaked European Commission PR strategy: “Communicating on TTIPNov. 25 2013

“CEO has today published a leaked version of the European Commission’s communication strategy for overcoming public skepticism about the controversial EU-US trade negotiations, the so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The document was discussed at a meeting with EU member states on Friday 22 November. In order to “reduce fears and avoid a mushrooming of doubts”, the Commission proposes to “further localise our communication effort at Member State level in a radically different way to what has been done for past trade initiatives”.

Lendman, Stephen

TPP: a free trade deal from hell / Stephen Lendman, 5 July 2012

A US view of the dangers of TPP.

US negotiators want extrajudicial enforcement rights. They want corporate investors freed to do what they please without regulatory oversight. On June 14, Public Citizen said TPP “could undermine Medicare, Medicaid,” and veterans’ health benefits. Seniors, military families, and America’s least advantaged will be harmed most.  That’s the whole idea. TPP prioritizes corporate interests at the expense of public ones. For example, affordable medicines will be lost. Price containment will be subverted. Leaked texts reveal it. … ‘Buy American’ procurements, limited Internet freedom a la SOPA (the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act) or created a two-track judicial system privileging corporations with a new ticket to raid our tax dollars.”

 McDonagh, Thomas

Unfair, unsustainable and under the radar: how corporations use global investment rules to undermine a sustainable future / Thomas McDonagh, 2013

24 page monograph. Detailed account of the implications of global investment rules for the global environment.  Proposes alternative investment models.  

Martin, Peter

Secrecy surrounds Trans Pacific partnership talks, 9 Dec. 2013 / Peter Martin (SMH)

The Australian government has refused the Senate access to the text of the TPP until after it is signed.  Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz was so dismayed about the leaked chapter from the agreement, that he wrote to representatives of all 12 participating countries to ask them not to sign the treaty because is posed “grave risks” (full text hot-linked to Stiglitz letter). Trade Minister Andrew Robb told Fairfax that he was prepared to agree to Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions in return for greater access to north American markets. ISDS was rejected by the previous Labor-led government.  Philip Morris is currently suing Australia over plain packaging under ISDS provisions of a treaty with Hong Kong.  Mr Robb said there would be “carve-outs” for public welfare, health and the environment.”

Martin, Peter

Trade treaty stance the same, despite promise / Peter Martin, 23 Sept. 2013 (SMH)

Trade Minister Andrew Robb has said he would consider accepting ISDS in exchange for greater access to markets. The stance of the previous, Labor government was that it would not accept ISDS under any circumstances.  Australia is the only country to have successfully concluded a trade deal with the US without ISDS – the US-Australia free trade agreement. It appeared that the US was close to agreeing to exempt Australia from the provisions.  US corporations are known to make frequent use of these provisions.  A US resource company is suing Quebec for imposing a moratorium on coal seam gas mining pending investigations of environmental damage. Key points: Australia is in danger of losing its unique advantage – of entering into treaties with the US without signing off on ISDS.

Mizohata, Sachie

The Trans-Pacific partnership and it critics / by Sachie Mizohata and the association of university faculties of Japan (Asia Pacific Journal, vol. 11, no. 36, no. 3, October 2013)

A Japanese viewpoint on the treaty and its potential threats.

Monbiot, George

A Global Ban on left-wing politics: that’s what the new rules being smuggled into trade agreements are delivering / by George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 5 Nov. 2013

Extract: These companies (and hundreds of others) are using the investor-state dispute rules embedded in trade treaties signed by the countries they are suing. The rules are enforced by panels which have none of the safeguards we expect in our own courts (7,8). The hearings are held in secret. The judges are corporate lawyers, many of whom work for corporations of the kind whose cases they hear. Citizens and communities affected by their decisions have no legal standing. There is no right of appeal on the merits of the case. Yet they can overthrow the sovereignty of parliaments and the rulings of supreme courts.  You don’t believe it? Here’s what one of the judges on these tribunals says about his work. “When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all … Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament.”(9).

Monbiot, George

“Managing Transparency”: politicians and officials are desperately seeking to justify their transatlantic assault on democracy / George Monbiot, 2 Dec. 2013 (The Guardian)

Edited extracts: The European Commission is negotiating with the US for a “Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (simultaneously with the Pacific TPP).  European Commission is insisting on including ISDS. This could threaten almost any means by which governments might seek to defend citizens or protect the natural world. It is being used by mining companies to sue governments trying to keep them out of protected areas (2, 3); by banks fighting financial regulation (4); by a nuclear company contesting Germany’s decision to switch off atomic power (5). After a big political fight we’ve now been promised plain packaging for cigarettes. But it could be nixed by an offshore arbitration panel. The tobacco company Philip Morris is currently suing Australia through the same mechanism in another treaty (6). The European Commission developed a strategy for “managing transparency” to try to allay public fears. From the outset, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has been driven by corporations and their lobby groups, who boast of being able to “co-write” it (8, 9). Persistent digging by the Corporate Europe Observatory reveals that the commission has held eight meetings on the issue with civil society groups, and 119 with corporations and their lobby groups (10). Unlike the civil society meetings, these have taken place behind closed doors and have not been disclosed online.  Though the Commission now tells the public that it will protect “the state’s right to regulate”(11), this isn’t the message the corporations have been hearing. In an interview last week, Stuart Eizenstat, co-chair of the Transatlantic Business Council, instrumental in driving the process, was asked whether companies whose products had been banned by regulators would be able to sue (12). Yes. “If a suit like that was brought and was successful, it would mean that the country banning the product would have to pay compensation to the industry involved or let the product in.” Would that apply to the European ban on chicken carcasses washed with chlorine, a controversial practice permitted in the US? “That’s one example where it might.”

 Nielson, Genevieve

Power relations in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement / Genevieve Nielson – 1 August 2013

Very interesting and slightly chilling analysis.  It does not take a stand on either side of the debate, but simply explains the driving forces behind the agreement using “world systems analysIs.” This involves on the one hand the search for ever cheaper labour, and on the other, maintenance of high prices for products produced by the “core” countries such as US and Japan. Australia is ranked in the middle as a “semi-periphery” country, as against the low wage raw materials countries which are the “periphery.”

 Panichi, James

Philip Morris, Australia and the fate of Europe’s trade talks, 8 Jan. 2014 / James Panichi (Inside Story)

It isn’t often that Australia rates a mention in the European Union’s corridors of power. And that’s no bad thing: the long-running diplomatic stoushes with Canberra over agriculture and market access are seen here as water under the bridge. No news is definitely good news. Yet for the past few months Australia has been the talk of the town. A little-known investment treaty between Hong Kong and Australia, signed in 1993, is being used as a cautionary tale of what lies in store for Europe as it negotiates its way towards what will be the biggest free trade and investment agreement ever. And Europe’s executive is responding by saying it has learnt from Australia’s mistakes.

 Public Citizen’s analysis of the TPP

A meticulous examination of the leaked chapter on Copyright.

 Regulatory Cooperation in the EU US economic agreement, October 2012 / US Chamber of Commerce and Business Europe

This document demonstrates that the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Treaty was planned by European Union and US peak business lobbies, rather than being a government initiative.

Rimmer, Matthew

The TPP Greenwashes Dirty Politics, 17 Jan. 2014 / Matthew Rimmer and Charlotte Wood

Extract: The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a highly secretive and expansive free trade agreement being negotiated between the US and eleven Pacific Rim countries, including Australia and New Zealand, has been promoted as a boon to the environment. But the text of the Environment Chapter of the agreement, which has been negotiated in secret until it was was released this week by WikiLeaks [8], appears to be little more than an exercise in greenwashing.  The US trade representative maintains that the US has pushed for “a robust, fully enforceable environment chapter in the TPP”, and Andrew Robb, the Australian Trade and Investment Minister, has vowed that the TPP will contain safeguards for the protection of the environment.  But on 15 January 2014, WikiLeaks released the draft Environment Chapter of the TPP — along with a report by the Chairs of the Environmental Working Group. Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ publisher, said the leak showed “The fabled TPP environmental chapter turns out to be a toothless public relations exercise with no enforcement mechanism.”  ’ “The Environment Chapter does not include enforcement mechanisms serving the defence of the environment; it is vague and weak, and adheres to the lowest common denominator of environmental interests”, observed WikiLeaks in its analysis.”

Roberts, Paul Craig

Towards Global Government? Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP): Corporate Escape from Accountability / Paul Craig Roberts, July 2012 (Global Research)

Extracts: The TPP has been called a “one-percenter” power tool. The agreement essentially abolishes the accountability of foreign corporations to governments of countries with which they trade. Indeed, the agreement makes governments accountable to corporations for costs imposed by regulations, including health, safety and environmental regulations. The agreement gives corporations the right to make governments pay them for the cost of complying with the regulations of government. One wonders how long environmental, labor, and financial regulation can survive when the costs of compliance are imposed on the taxpayers of countries and not on the economic activity that results in spillover effects such as pollution. …the agreement requires all governments that are parties to the TPP to harmonize their laws so that the new corporate privileges are equally reflected in every country. To avoid discriminatory law against a country’s own corporations that do not engage in foreign trade, harmonization could mean that domestic corporations would be granted the same privileges as foreign investors. If not, domestic firms might acquire the privileges by setting up a foreign subsidiary consisting of an office.”

Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – Environment Consolidated Text

This is the recently released leaked version of the chapter on the environment.  See under Kelsey, Jane above for commentary. Scroll down to open the full document.

Sievers, Ken

Why Australians should be worried about the TPP / Ken Sievers, 2 Aug. 2013

Extract: Some examples [of ISDS actions] from Latin America: “In 2009, the government of Uruguay, following recommendations from the World Health Organization, increased the size of health warnings on cigarettes packages. A year later, it was sued for US$2 billion by tobacco giant Philip Morris which claimed Uruguay had expropriated its trademark. Back in 2000, when Argentina was in a deep economic crisis, the government eased people’s hardship by freezing electricity and water tariffs. It has since been battling over 40 lawsuits demanding multi-million dollar compensations. After an Ecuadorian court ordered Chevron to pay US$18 billion in damages and clean-up for oil-drilling-related contamination in the Amazonian rainforest, Chevron counter-sued Ecuador arguing that the government breached its investment treaty with the US by allowing the legal case to continue.”

 Stuart E. Eizenstat TV interview (English)

He says among other things that the rest of the world should be satisfied to follow the same laws and regulations as the American public does.  It is a matter of trusting corporations and the US government to do the right thing. His statements are at variance with what appears in the European Commission’s communications strategy paper. (See under Leaked European PR strategy, above)

 Taiwan and the Trans-Pacific partnership: issues and opportunities

This EU-US trade deal is no ‘assault on democracy’ 12 Nov. 2013

Ignore George Monbiot’s polemic – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is an astonishingly good deal for the UK economy – Ken Clarke (the Guardian)

This talk of shadowy corporations is all the more misleading given that, in my view, the deal’s advantages will prove to be far more noticeable for smaller enterprises than for larger corporations. This is because the most important task for the regulators will be to establish that where a car part or a cake or a beauty product has been tested as safe in the EU, the US will allow its import without requiring a whole new series of similar-but-slightly different tests – and vice versa. This is not about reducing safety levels. It is simply common sense. Would any of us on holiday in the US decline to hire that all-American SUV, or say no to that unfeasibly enormous vat of fizzy pop on the grounds that the regulations “are not the same as the EU’s”?

Tienhaara, Kyla

Investor-state dispute settlement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, 19 May 2010 (Regulatory Institutions Network, Australian National University

Summary of recommendations

“This submission outlines serious problems with both the process of investor-state dispute settlement and the handling of important issues of public policy by investment arbitration tribunals. The key recommendations are that the government should:

  • strongly oppose the inclusion of investor-state dispute settlement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement
  • not sign any agreements that contain an investor-state dispute settlement clause

This public submission looks at some of the serious failings of the current system of

international investment arbitration. It also draws on the experience of Canada, which has been exposed to claims by American investors under the investment chapter of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for the last fifteen years, to illustrate how an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in the TPP could negatively affect public policy in Australia. A particular focus is given to NAFTA investor-state disputes concerning regulation aimed at the protection of the environment.”
Townshend, Ruth

When trade agreements threaten sovereignty: Australia beware / Ruth Townshend 15 Nov. 2013 (The Conversation)

Leaking of key TPP documents by Wikileaks indicates Australia may now be supporting the inclusion of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), which allow corporations to challenge laws made by democratically elected governments. ISDS provisions were originally introduced decades ago to protect investors against arbitrary actions of states without rule of law.  Investors could then take their case to an external court for resolution, according to the terms of the operating free trade agreement.  However it appears that more recently ISDS provisions have been misused against states where the rule of law prevails.  Philip Morris challenged Australian plain packaging laws in the Australian High Court, and when they lost their case, took the matter to the international court under ISDS provisions in a free trade agreement with Hong Kong.  The number of ISDS cases increased dramatically during 2013. Metgasco is challenging the NSW government over laws to protect the environment and public health from possible risks of coal seam gas mining.  ISDS limits the legitimate role of government to make laws for public benefit.  The existence of the provisions will place a constraint on governments acting for the public good in future. Governments should be free to make laws in the interests of their people, not just for the financial benefit of corporations.  Key points: ISDS provisions are being used more often and increasingly being misused.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership sure sounds benign enough.  It isn’t!!!!

Edited extracts: In a recent edition of The Progressive Populist, Jim Hightower, the male Molly Ivins; (a huge compliment) wrote of just a few of the offending chapters that would have a lasting impact on pact members. Food safety and regulations could be overridden as “illegal trade barriers.” Fracking gases could be exported with no DOE review. US corporations would get sweetheart deals in moving their factories to low-wage TPP nations. Others, such as the Public Knowledge Website, are concerned about the embarrassing lack of transparency, the dearth of input from public advocacy groups, not to mention, the public, themselves and TPP’s ability to kick people off the Internet, oft-times for breaking rules they weren’t even aware of.   Additional negatives … monopoly (and significantly higher) pricing for the pharmaceutical industry would be sanctioned through extended patent protection and the ability to block generic designation, creating a deadly chapter for poorer countries. Though Hightower doesn’t reveal his sources, he could have only gained his information from either this draft report, released mid-summer by WikiLeaks or by researching four assorted previous leaks, one dating as far back as February 2011.  Also contained within the leaks, a very real danger that U.S. banking reforms and regulations could be rolled back and the practice of combining banking and investment houses would be expanded. The dream of corporations of controlling the Internet could finally come true enabling the monitoring of all Internet use activity (pretty much the case now). Internet access could be cut off and your content taken down.  Another troubling element in Hightower’s list; conforming certain laws to the TPP model including the section that mandates that member countries open their service sectors to private competitors. The consequence being, according to Hightower, that the corporate providers could cherry pick profitable customers. In aping U.S. and Candian regs, or lack thereof, there’s also the TPP proposition that countries don’t have to have GMO (genetically modified or engineered foods) labels affixed to, well, containers of GMO’s. At least 50 countries ban or restrict such foods according to informative Website, Label

Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

A right wing view of the threats posed by the TPP.

 TPPA – A Stealth Attempt to Undermine Democracy

Extract: It takes quite a “trade” agreement to undermine financial regulation, increase drug prices, flood us with unsafe imported food and products, ban Buy America policies aimed at recovery and redevelopment, and empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards before tribunals of corporate lawyers. Trade, in fact, is the least of the TPP.  Backdoor deregulation and imposition of new corporate investor and patent rights via “trade” negotiation began in the 1990s, with the “mission creep” of the World Trade Organization and North American Free Trade Agreement. But the TPP now threatens a slow motion stealth attack against a century of progressive domestic policy, of an unprecedented scope. At stake is nothing less than a democratic society’s ability to regulate a market economy in the broad public interest.

The Trans Pacific Partnership: your guide to copyright in the TPP

This is a comparison between current US law and the leaked text of TPP changes.

A transatlantic corporate bill of rights, June 3 2013 / Corporate Europe Observatory

Leaked draft versions of the EU negotiating mandate for a far-reaching free trade agreement with the US – to be approved at next week’s trade minister meeting (14 June) – reveal the European Commission’s plans to enshrine more powers for corporations in the deal. The proposal follows a persistent campaign by industry lobby groups and law firms to empower large companies to challenge regulations both at home and abroad if they affect their profits. As a result, EU member states could soon find domestic laws to protect the public interest challenged in secretive, offshore tribunals where national laws have no weight and politicians no powers to intervene.

 UNCTAD publishes its annual review of investor-state dispute settlement

United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

Investor-State Disputes arising from Investment Treaties: a review

UNCTAD Series on International Investment Policies for

Development – 2005

Extracts p. 8. This rise in investment disputes poses a particular challenge for developing countries. The financial implications of the investor-State dispute-settlement process can be substantial, from the point of view of both the costs of the arbitration proceedings and the awards rendered. Information about the level of damages being sought by investors tends to be patchy and unreliable. Even ascertaining the amounts sought by

foreign investors can be difficult, as most of the cases are still at a preliminary stage and, under the ICSID system, claimants are not obliged to quantify their claims until after the jurisdictional stage has been completed. Claims proceeding under other rules of arbitration are also difficult to quantify. It is, nonetheless, clear that some claims involve large sums (box 1). Furthermore, even defending against claims that may not ultimately be successful costs money. A cursory review of cost decisions in recent awards suggests that the average legal costs incurred by Governments are between $1 million and $2 million including lawyers’ fees, the costs for the tribunal of about $400,000 or more, and the costs for the claimants, which are about the same as those

for the defendant.

 Westwood, Pauline

Secretive trade pact killing democracy, 4 Jan. 2014

If our laws and policies are to be decided by large corporations rather than Australian voters, there will be no more democracy. Civil rights will be but a faint memory of a quaint, bygone age.  Having been trained to consume additive-laced food, expensive cars, ill-fitting sweatshop clothes and successive releases of technological gadgets which track our communications and monitor our every move, we will be compelled to comply with law, policy and services dictated by foreign firms whose sole motivation is to plump up their profits. Our gradual transformation from active citizens to passive “consumers” will be complete.

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