By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a forthcoming U.S. trade agreement that looks to solidify a seamless regional economy in the Pacific-rim, would give multinational corporations the power to challenge and even avoid compliance with laws in member countries — including the U.S. — provided a super-national corporate tribunal agrees with their claim.
That’s according to documents leaked this week by the Citizens Trade Campaign, an activist group responsible for leaking TPP proposals on intellectual property last year. The latest leak details a TPP draft chapter on “investments,” which proposes an independent dispute arbitration process that would be empowered to supersede domestic laws or regulatory actions in member states if they are seen as conflicting with the TPP’s framework.
Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said Wednesday that it “has verified that the text is authentic,” and described the proposals as being fraught with “dangers.”
“It reveals that negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms granting expansive new rights and privileges for foreign investors and their private corporate enforcement through extra-judicial ‘investor-state’ tribunals,” they explained.
“Although TPP has been branded as a ‘trade’ agreement, the leaked text shows that TPP would limit how signatory countries may regulate foreign firms operating within their boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms,” Public Citizen’s analysis added. “The leaked text reveals a two-track legal system, with foreign firms empowered to skirt domestic courts and laws to directly sue TPP governments in foreign tribunals. There they can demand compensation for domestic financial, health, environmental, land use laws and other laws they claim undermine their new TPP privileges.”