Thursday, June 14, 2012

TPP Documents Leaked, Huffington Post, Activists Huff

 

The debate about the Trans-Pacific Partnership just got a little bit more huffy 
(cool adjective I just invented) as The Huffington Post leaked links to 
documents that US trade negotiators have tried to keep away from the public eye 
that were released by Public Citizen.
 

And of course, the same is true for every other country that joins the TPP. The international tribunal will be able to overrule any national legislation that is not in line with the TPP rules. Forget about national legislation, that is so old-school. Democracy? I don't think so. Say your country has environmental laws and consumer protection rules, that are not so much appreciated by some multinational corporation, be it chemicals, energy, cars, food, or medicines. 

The Trans-Pacific deal has Intellectual Property (IP) provision rules that would prevent the development of useful new products in the technology space, blocking the release of new products.

If national rules do not confirm with TPP negotiated terms, the foreign company can then use the tribunal, very similar to the WTO dispute panel system, to get their way. It especially applies to attempts to get access to medicines, better food labels, or national efforts to outlaw unsafe products or chemicals, such as antibiotics and hormones for animals in food production, or food additives, and especially national rules for genetically modified crops (GMO).

It follows that such tribunal would be granted the power to overrule Japanese law and impose trade sanctions on Japan for failing to abide by its rulings.

If Japan were to join the TPP, there would be a lot less information for consumers about the food we buy. And we want to improve the food labelling rules, not have them become subject to rulings by obscure panels of judges that couldn't care less about what is in the best interest of the general public.

The leaked text of the pact’s Investment Chapter shows that, if applied to Japan, the TPP would:
·      limit how Japanese government officials could regulate foreign firms operating within Japan, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms;
·      extend the incentives for Japanese firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries;
·      establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt Japanese courts and laws, directly sue the Japanese government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges; and
·      allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with Japanese financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms.

huff n : a state of irritation or annoyance [syn: miff, seeing red] 
2v: blow hard and loudly 

WASHINGTON -- A critical document from President Barack Obama's free 
trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early 
Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow 
radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, 
contradicting prior promises. 

The leaked document has been posted on the website of Public Citizen, a long-time critic of the administration's trade objectives. The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive.

"The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of [trade] negotiations," said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch in a written statement.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has been so incensed by the lack of access as to introduce legislation requiring further disclosure. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has gone so far as to leak a separate document from the talks on his website. Other Senators are considering writing a letter to Ron Kirk, the top trade negotiator under Obama, demanding more disclosure.

The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration's advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.


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