Posted 10 months ago on June 4, 2013, 10:03 p.m. EST by WSmith
from Cornelius, OR
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TPP: Corporate Power Tool of the 1%
Have you heard? The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement is a stealthy policy being pressed by corporate America, a dream of the 1 percent, that in one blow could:
• offshore millions of American jobs, • free the banksters from oversight, • ban Buy America policies needed to create green jobs and rebuild our economy, • decrease access to medicine, • flood the U.S. with unsafe food and products, • and empower corporations to attack our environmental and health safeguards.
Closed-door talks are on-going between the U.S. and Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam; with countries like Japan and China potentially joining later. 600 corporate advisors have access to the text, while the public, Members of Congress, journalists, and civil society are excluded. And so far what we know about what's in there is very scary!
Rep. Grayson: Trade deal measure could give corporations power to block regs
By Megan R. Wilson - 06/02/13 06:00 AM ET
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) sent nearly 10,000 constituent letters to the Obama administration in an effort to remove a provision from a proposed free-trade deal with the EU that he says could give unchecked power to corporations hoping to kill regulations. The proposed U.S.-EU trade deal includes an investor-state dispute resolution that would enable companies to directly sue foreign governments involved in a treaty. It has been standard fare in trade deals for decades and is intended to hold governments accountable for reneging on contracts or agreements and changing regulations.
“This is one of the tools you could use … to get bad governments to do what they've committed to do,” said William Reinsch, the president of the National Foreign Trade Council, a business trade group dedicated to trade and investment issues that boasts members such as Boeing and Caterpillar.
Opponents have long railed against the trade courts, arguing that giving multinational corporations the ability to directly challenge a foreign government in an international tribunal threatens public and environmental safeguards.
Laws and regulations “reflect the actions of democratic government,” Grayson told The Hill, calling the provision “an organized assault against middle-class Americans and against democracy.”
The cases in the tribunals created by these investor-state disagreements are decided by three attorneys, who public interest groups say shuffle from acting as judges and representing corporations.
Corporations should not “get the right to sue in front of a rigged system where the outcome is preordained,” Grayson said.
In April, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office (USTR) asked for feedback in advance of a meeting about the U.S-EU trade deal, known as the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Just more than a day before the deadline, “Alan’s army,” as Grayson affectionately calls his supporters, sent him nearly 10,000 individual comments in opposition to the investor-state negotiation clause.
“Before we did this, there had been only 113 comments submitted in about six weeks, mostly from corporate lobbyists,” he said. The provision is “of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists and for the lobbyists,” he continued.
Reinsch said that without the negotiation clauses, businesses would have to rely on convincing their government to go to bat for them in battle with a foreign government.
The World Trade Organization generally governs disputes between the U.S. and EU, which means corporations have to persuade the government to fight dispute cases for them.
“Sometimes, governments are willing to fight,” Reinsch said, but not always. “This is right out of the American tradition, we can sue anyone for anything.”
Investors can already sue foreign regulators in domestic courts, as U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturer AbbVie did in the EU last month over its clinical data-sharing rules.
Historically, the state-investor negotiations stem from the premise that some countries’ “legal systems are too corrupt, incompetent or ill-equipped to hear foreign investors’ claims,” said Ben Beachy, the research director at Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. “So the question for the EU and U.S. governments is: Does either side see the other’s domestic legal systems as untrustworthy?”
Grayson already has another 15,000 signatures from Americans in a letter he's poised to send to other House lawmakers, he said. In the letter, Grayson says the investor-state negotiation provisions “undermine sovereignty without significantly increasing trade.”
“These kinds of provisions have been used to undermine country-of-origin meat labels, dolphin-safe tuna labeling requirements, regulation of hydraulic fracking,” he said. “These are not fundamentally questions of trade; why are they governed by so-called ‘trade agreements?’”
Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/regwatch/business/302833-rep-alan-grayson-says-a-provision-in-a-proposed-free-trade-deal-with-the-eu-could-give-unchecked-power-to-corporations#ixzz2VIahBczB Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook