Note: There is no TPP before Congress. President Obama is negotiating a treaty without Congress.
President Obama, members of Congress, including many Republicans, are going to agree to a trade deal that sends the U.S. government to a United Nations-sanctioned tribunal to settle disputes with foreign companies. It will infringe on our sovereignty and impact government regulation involving businesses in banking, tobacco, pharmaceuticals, mining, farming, environment, you name it.
Taxpayers could be on the hook for big payouts to foreign companies who would require us to change our laws and regulations.
It’s not just the lawsuits against the federal government. Corporations can sue states in private courts.
The deal is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, a 12-nation treaty being finalized in secret. Sections of the deal have leaked out, the most recent being a chapter leaked by Wikileaks, which Global Watch has determined is accurate.
It is the chapter on investments and ISDS.
Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is an instrument of public international law that grants an investor the right to use dispute settlement proceedings against a foreign government.
While we have these instruments in place already, TPP will expand it to countries who have the power and budget to sue us into oblivion. We’ve been lucky in the past because countries included were far more limited and had more limited resources but now we will include wealthier countries like Japan and Australia.
TPP rules would govern domestic rules in the end because of the power of lawsuits under a UN-sanctioned Tribunal.
Global Trade Watch warns: The TPP would even elevate individual foreign firms to equal status with sovereign nations, empowering them to privately enforce new rights and privileges, provided by the pact, by dragging governments to foreign [UN-sanctioned] tribunals to challenge public interest policies that they claim frustrate their expectations.
The tribunals would be authorized to order taxpayer compensation to the foreign corporations for the “expected future profits” they surmise would be inhibited by the challenged policies.
TPP has something in it for everyone to hate. It’s a coup d’état of corporations over the people.
The TPP agreement gives extraordinary powers to foreign governments to sue the United States for actions they say hurt their investment “expectations” and their business. The U.S. government would then have to pay out taxpayer dollars to settle the suits.
The lawsuits would use private lawyers who would alternate as judges and as such, would lack transparency and accountability. They are unelected, yet their decisions would supersede federal, state, and local law.
Companies and investors would be able to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.
Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch, sees it as regulatory change, “You now have specialized law firms being set up. You go to them, tell them what country you’re in, what regulation you want to go after, and they say ‘We’ll do it on contingency.’”
It’s a boon for lawyers and holds the promise of a big payday.
The definition of investment is incredibly broad. it includes “every asset that an investor owns or controls, directly or indirectly, that has the characteristic of an investment,” including “regulatory permits; intellectual property rights; financial instruments such as stocks and derivatives”; construction, management, production, concession, revenue-sharing and other similar contracts; and “licenses, authorizations, permits and similar rights conferred pursuant to domestic law.”
Global Watch says the TPP expands NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) which has caused job loss, reduced wages, inequality and a flood of agricultural imports. It also expands protections for firms that offshore U.S. jobs.
An entire chapter provides incentives to offshore jobs to low-wage countries.