So Congress has all this authority. They’re supposed to be exclusively in control. But until this June, they were not even allowed to see the draft text.
And it was only after a big, great fuss was kicked up by a lot of members—150 of them wrote last year—that finally members of Congress, upon request for the particular chapter, can have a government administration official bring them a chapter. Their staff is thrown out of the room. They can’t take detailed notes. They’re not supposed to talk about what they saw. And they can, without staff to help them figure out what the technical language is, look at a chapter. This is in contrast to, say, even what the Bush administration did. The last time we had one of these mega-NAFTAexpansion attempts was the Free Trade Area of the Americas. And in that instance, in 2001, that whole draft text was released to the public by the U.S. government on the official government websites. So, this is extraordinary secrecy, and members of Congress aren’t supposed to tell anyone what they’ve read. So, for instance, you know, Alan Grayson, who was one of the guys who helped to get the text released, Alan Grayson said, “I can tell you it’s very bad for the future of America. I just can’t tell you why.” That’s obscene.
This would rewrite wide swaths of our laws. And again, it’s mainly not about trade. So, if we have this agreement in effect, for instance, it would be a big push for fracking. Now you would say, “Why fracking?” Because it doesn’t allow us to have bans on liquid natural gas exports. Or, if this were in effect, we couldn’t ensure the safety of the food we feed our families. We have to import, for instance, fish and shrimp that we know, from the limited inspection that’s done, is extremely dangerous from certain kinds of growing ponds that are contaminated, etc., in some of the TPPcountries. Or, for instance, some of the financial reforms where the banksters were finally regulated would be rolled back. All of this, and it would be privately enforceable by certain foreign corporations.
Lori Wallach. …So, the TPP includes the very controversial investor-state system, which empowers individual corporations to directly sue governments—not in our courts, but in extrajudicial tribunals where three corporate attorneys act as “judges,” and these guys rotate between being the judge and being the guys suing the government for the corporation. They’re empowered to give unlimited cash damages from us, the taxpayers, to these corporations for any government action—a regulatory issue, environment, health, safety—that undermines the investor’s expected future profits. Under that system, big tobacco companies have been attacking health regulations. And famously—infamously—these kinds of investor-state cases have extracted billions of dollars and undermined important laws. So, Philip Morris has used this to attack Australia, one of the TPP country’s plain-packaging-of-cigarette laws. http://www.democracynow.org/2013/10/4/a_corporate_trojan_horse_obama_pushes
9-2-13 ‘Yet the state-owned enterprises chapter has been a centrepiece of their sales pitch to Congress on the TPPA. Without it, Congress may refuse to give the President “fast track” authority and retain their power to pick apart any final deal.’
‘There are still many twists and turns to go in these negotiations. The problem is that we will have even less chance to know what they are and what political deals are being made to eliminate them.’
These appear to be labour (especially on enforcement) in Ottawa; intellectual property (including patents for medicines) Mexico City; e-commerce (including privacy and data protection) San Francisco; investment (mainly schedules of exclusions), location unknown; technical barriers to trade(labelling and technical standards) Mexico City; legal issues (including medical pricing and tobacco) Washington DC. http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1309/S00003/tppa-goes-into-overdrive-and-underground.htm
Greens support push for TPP transparency
Tuesday, 1 October 2013, 11:58 am
01 October 2013
Greens support push for TPP transparency
All New Zealanders that value democracy need to get behind an electronic petition calling for the release of the draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Green Party trade spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham said today.
Prominent New Zealand actors, musicians and media commentators are calling for the Government to release the draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
“It’s significant that so many prominent New Zealanders are willing to lend their voices to a larger campaign pushing for this to happen,” Dr Graham said.
“The Green Party considers that the TPP process needs to be transparent.
“New Zealanders need to know what deals, if any, John Key will try to cut while he is at the APEC meeting in Bali this weekend.
“So far New Zealanders have been told joining the TPP is in their interest.
“However when a small country is up against the might of the United States and the power of multi-national corporates it is entirely possible any deal done through the TPP will be skewed in those interests.
“The TPP is more than just another trade agreement,” said Dr Graham.
“The TPP has the ability to restrict the ability of future governments to legislate for the good of public health and the environment.
“It is likely the TPP will include provisions that will allow other countries or multinational corporations to sue New Zealand if they consider our laws don’t suit their needs
“So far this agreement has been negotiated behind closed doors with a level of secrecy that is completely unacceptable in a democratic society,” Dr Graham said.
“In a democracy, people should have the right to know the detail of and have input into international agreements the Key Government is intending to sign us up to.”
In other words, Lilly is pushing for an entirely different legal standard to be adopted in Canada, and it is using NAFTA as a lever to achieve that goal. Keep in mind, as Public Citizen points out, that within the TPP negotiations, the Obama administration and its friends in Big Pharma have been pushing for even greater patent protections and extensions than those that exist in NAFTA:
Now, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a sweeping NAFTA-style deal under negotiation between the United States and ten Pacific Rim countries – threatens to not just replicate, but expand on the NAFTA provisions that provide the basis for such audacious challenges to countries’ patent policies.
Why is Lilly trying to flex its legal muscle in Canada? At base, it is seeking to shore up the sagging confidence among investors by achieving a landmark extension of its patents.
Gordon Campbell on the media’s duty to evaluate the TPP
Tuesday, 8 October 2013, 12:05 pm
One downside of so called ‘objectivity’ is that it can turn the media into a simple megaphone for those in power – especially in situations where the media chooses to effectively abandon its role in evaluating the information it is being fed. The reportage on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a good case in point. You could hardly find a process with bigger ramifications for this country – in terms of the alleged payoffs for our economy, and with regard to the potential cost in national sovereignty – that is receiving less in the way of critical evaluation.
There has been almost no active reporting on the deal by the New Zealand mainstream media, or attempts at evaluating the content, or the current state of play of the TPP negotiations. What has been settled? What remains to be settled ? Ultimately, has a TPP deal got any chance of being passed by the US Congress? Are the goals New Zealand are seeking – in say, access to our agricultural markets in Asia – achievable now, in 20 years time, or only in the never never? And if so, what should that mean for the trade-offs that we are being expected to make in other areas?
So far, the politicians managing the process – Trade Minister Tim Groser, Prime MInister John Key – have successfully imposed a cone of silence over the TPP talks such that any other source of information is seen as activism, and routinely discounted. Or is regarded as protectionism in disguise – as in this morning’s NZ Herald editorial, which happily burbles away that New Zealanders should be so proud that our Prime Minister is chairing a committee on something that is so very, very important.
Embarrassing, airhead stuff. It needn’t be that way. Elsewhere – in the Canadian, Japanese, Chilean and US media – there has been consistent, active discussion of the TPP content, and about its prospects of meeting its ever-optimistic deadlines. Specialist publications – like the authoritative Inside US Trade and Washington Trade Daily – have been reporting in detail about the TPP for years. Nor is the cone of silence being strictly observed by the overseas media, or even by some of the negotiators. In Chile, it was the business magazine Pulso that interviewed Chile’s chief negotiator Alvaro Jana, and were told by him that as of August 30, only a quarter of the TPP’s 26 chapters had been completed, withnone of them being the important ones.
Elsewhere on Scoop, this month’s issue ofWerewolf has reported in detail on the current logjams in the TPP negotiations. The reality is that all of the TPP contentious chapters that were central and contentious two years ago remain deadlocked today. Yet the mainstream reportage continues to repeat the spin that “significant progress” has been made lately, and “cautious optimism” exists that the talks can be completed by year’s end. (Like Zeno’s arrow, that significant progress never reaches the target.)
Given the size of the existing gaps in the negotiating positions, TPP closure could only be achieved if there were huge concessions and giveaways at a political level – and since so much of the process has been conducted in secret, Key and Groser can hardly claim to have a mandate for the wholesale horse-trading that this would require.