Update on Secret “Free” Trade Treaty
(This is a follow-up of two previous posts on the secret “free” trade treaty the Obama administration is negotiation: Will the RCEP kill the TPP and Why You Never Hear of Either One and Will China Kill the TPP?)
The Auckland round of Transpacific Partnership (TPP) aka Transpacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) negotiations finished yesterday with citizens of potential member countries still totally in the dark about the text of the proposed treaty.
There were numerous New Zealand new stories about the December 3-12 “free” trade talks, largely due to the major street protests, in which several cops were injured. The New Zealand Herald published an op-ed on TPP(A) by antiglobalization activist Jane Kelsey, who is also an associate dean (research) at Auckland University’s School of Law.
Now that Canada has also joined the TPP(A) negotiations, the Toronto Star also published an editorial condemning the blanket of secrecy over the talks. There was virtually no coverage in the US, except for Free Speech Radio News, which featured an interview with Public Citizen’s Lori Wallach (from Auckland).
According to Kelsey’s op-ed, it now seems enough additional TPP(A) text has been leaked to reveal that it contains 29 discrete sections, only five of which deal with trade the way people traditionally understand the concept. Most of the document sets rules limiting domestic regulation that could potentially interference with the ability of foreign companies to carry out business.
Of particular concern is the so-called “transparency” clause (ironic, isn’t it, since all the TPPA negotiations are conducted in secret). This section would require member countries to allow foreign companies direct input into new regulations that potentially affect their industry. Even worse is the Regulatory Coherence, chapter which puts the burden of proof on regulators to prove they aren’t adversely impacting foreign corporations.
In her article, Kelsey mentions a recent study by the study released by the Transnational Institute revealing that international law and private equity firms are actively seeking out “free trade” suits because they’re so lucrative. Under current NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and WTO (World Trade Organization) provisions, governments can sue other countries for regulations that interfere with the profitability of their corporations. Under the TPP(A), corporations would be allowed to sue sovereign nations on their own behalf. If a corporation “wins”, the taxpayers of the “losing” country must foot the bill.
I highly recommend the Free Speech Radio Interview if people need more background information why the TPP(A) is so dangerous to what remains of democratic processes in the industrialized west.