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article imageOp-Ed: What you don't know about the Transpacific Partnership

By Karen Graham     Mar 26, 2015 in Business
The 12-nation Transpacific Partnership (TPP), backed by President Obama will not be a"good deal" for the U.S.. A classified document has been released showing the alleged formation of a secret tribunal, organized under the World Bank or UN.
For those of us not familiar with the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), here's a very brief explanation of what it is supposed to be. The agreement began in 2005, and was intended to "enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, to promote innovation, economic growth and development, and to support the creation and retention of jobs." Sounds easy enough to understand, right?
But over the years, there has been contention and disagreement over parts of the agreement, such as agriculture, intellectual property and investments, on up to last meeting in Ottawa in July, 2014. But through all the negotiations, Obama has been pushing the implementation of the TPP as one of the cornerstone goals of his economic agenda.
The leak of a classified document changes everything
The New York Times reported on March 25, that according to a classified document, called "Investment Chapter," leaked on the same day by, the 12-nation TPP agreement would allow foreign governments to sue the U.S. government for any actions that would "undermine their financial expectations and hurt their business."
The 12 member-countries involved in the trade agreement include the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. This group, the TPP, is said to be a forerunner of another secretive agreement between the U.S. and the European Union, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Negotiations for the TTIP were started by Obama in 2013. Combined, the member nations of the TPP and the TTIP would account for more than 60 percent of global GDP. Both of these "free-trade" agreements were negotiated outside the purview of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) framework. It is also very conspicuous that Brazil, Russia, India and China are absent from these negotiations.
The Investment Chapter gives powers to corporations over governments
The Investment Chapter is dated January 20, 2015. It is classified as secret, and is supposed to be kept secret for four years after it is accepted as part of the TPP agreement. If it is not accepted, the four-year rule will still apply. If accepted, this would mean that companies and investors could legally challenge any regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings—federal, state or local before a supra-national court, or tribunal.
The tribunal, according to the Investment Chapter, consists of a revolving group of corporate lawyers, who at different times will act as judge or prosecutor. This group presents, argues and judges all cases. Of course, the potential for conflicts of interest, and behind the door secret negotiations is even greater than that which goes on today.
Ralph Nader, America's consumer watchdog, explained how the tribunal works: "Suppose that Brazil sues the U.S. and says “your food labeling laws are too restrictive and they are keeping out our exports to your country.” Then we send our Attorney General to Geneva before the Tribunal. There can be no press, no public disclosure of what happens behind closed doors. If we lose, as we almost certainly will, there is no independent appeal. It circumvents our courts, legislative and regulations. Foreign corporations can take our food, health and safety protections and bring us before these tribunals and if they lose, we pay millions of dollars in compensation."
After reading this latest document, Lawmakers have voiced their fears. “This is really troubling,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Senate’s number three Democrat. “It seems to indicate that savvy, deep-pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government, such as made-in-America laws or anti-tobacco laws. I think people on both sides of the aisle will have trouble with this.”
It is also understood that Obama is wanting to "fast-track" the TPP legislation through Congress, giving lawmakers little or no time to study or discuss the legislation. if this is allowed to happen, the White House will effectively throw Democracy to the dogs. We really cannot let this happen.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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