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  • Eyes on Trade is a blog by the staff of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch (GTW) division. GTW aims to promote democracy by challenging corporate globalization, arguing that the current globalization model is neither a random inevitability nor "free trade." Eyes on Trade is a space for interested parties to share information about globalization and trade issues, and in particular for us to share our watchdogging insights with you! GTW director Lori Wallach's initial post explains it all.

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June 13, 2012

Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked, Shows U.S. Trade Officials Have Agreed to Terms That Undermine Obama Domestic Agenda

PUBLIC CITIZEN PRESS RELEASE

After Two Years of Closed-Door Negotiations, Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Replicates Alarming Bush Trade Pact Terms That Obama Opposed as Candidate, and Worse

WASHINGTON, D.C.– A leak today of one of the most controversial chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) reveals that extreme provisions have been agreed to by U.S. officials, providing a stark warning about the dangers of “trade” negotiations occurring under conditions of extreme secrecy without press, public or policymaker oversight, Public Citizen said.

 “The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of TPP negotiations,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “Via closed-door negotiations, U.S. officials are rewriting swaths of U.S. law that have nothing to do with trade and in a move that will infuriate left and right alike have agreed to submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of foreign tribunals that can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations that don’t want to comply with the same laws our domestic firms do.”  

Although the TPP has been branded a “trade” agreement, the leaked text of the pact’s Investment Chapter shows that the TPP would:

  • limit how U.S. federal and state officials could regulate foreign firms operating within U.S.  boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms;
  • extend the incentives for U.S. firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries;
  • establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges; and
  • allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms. 

While 600 official U.S. corporate advisors have access to TPP texts and have a special role in advising U.S. negotiators, for the public, press and policymakers, this leak provides the first access to one of the prospective TPP’s most controversial chapters. In May, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness – the committee with jurisdiction over the TPP – filed legislation to open the process after he and his staff were denied access to even the U.S. proposals for the TPP negotiations. 

Last month, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk defended the unprecedented secrecy of TPP negotiations by noting that when the draft of a major regional trade pact was released previously, it became impossible to finish the deal as then proposed. 

“The top U.S. trade official effectively has said that the administration must keep TPP secret because otherwise it won’t be able to shove this deal past the public and Congress,” said Wallach. “The airing of this one TPP chapter, which greatly favors foreign corporations over domestic businesses and the public interest and exposes us to significant financial liabilities, shows that the whole draft text must be released immediately so it can be reviewed and debated. Absent that, these negotiations must be ended now.” 

The TPP is the first trade pact the Obama administration is negotiating. Today’s leak further complicates the administration’s goal of completing TPP negotiations this fall. Already the TPP timeline was generating political headaches for the Obama re-election campaign, as repeated U.S polling shows that majorities of Democrats, Independents and GOP oppose more NAFTA-style trade deals. 

The TPP may well be the last trade agreement that the U.S. negotiates. This is because TPP, if completed, would have a new feature relative to past U.S. trade pacts: It would remain open for any other country to join later. Last month, USTR Kirk said that he "would love nothing more" than to have China join TPP.

The TPP offered an opportunity to develop a new model of trade agreement that could deliver the benefits of expanded trade without unduly undermining signatory nations’ domestic public interest policies or establishing special privileges for foreign corporations. President Barack Obama and countless members of Congress campaigned on fixing these investment rules to better protect the public interest. But Public Citizen’s analysis of this text shows that the U.S. positions do not reflect any of the changes that candidate Obama pledged when he recognized the threats posed by the NAFTA-style investment provisions in trade agreements. 

The leak also reveals that:

  • Australia has refused to submit to the jurisdiction of the “investor-state” private corporate enforcement foreign tribunal system;
  • U.S. negotiators are alone in seeking to expand this extra-judicial enforcement system to allow the use of foreign tribunals to enforce contracts that foreign investors may have with a government for government procurement or to operate utilities contracts and even related to concessions for natural resources on federal lands;
  • Other countries are proposing safeguards for financial regulation and limits to the corporate tribunals that the U.S. has not supported.

 Public Citizen’s analysis of the leaked text and guided tour through its provisions can be found here.

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BREAKING: For an analysis of these developments by Zach Carter of The Huffington Post, click here.

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Comments

Shirley Gallagher

If this is a secret, why are you releasing and posting this secret information on your website, for everyone to see.

I do hope you are not the one that release the other leaks, that could hurt America.

Ruth Townsend

Shirley Gallagher, the leaking of this document is about making you, the citizen, aware of what your government is doing. The government should be telling you this stuff themselves. You are living in a democracy right where you have the right to know what your government is doing and how their decisions will affect you? Instead people like you let the government get away with telling you nothing. How is that any different from other less democratic countries in the world like China or North Korea? Wake up and start asking questions. You have a right to know this stuff. Entering into this trade deal may actually hurt you and your fellow citizens because it will open the US up to foreign corporations claims against US governments who attempt to introduce domestic legislation that benefits the citizens of the state but which may result in the limiting of profits able to be made by those corporations. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement, there were several Canadian companies for example, that sued various US govts (local, state) for variously large sums of money for introducing things like environmental and human health protection laws (ie laws against the use of certain chemicals and poisons) because they meant that the corporations who made those chemicals were losing access to certain markets. That means that your tax payer dollars have to pay compensation to private corporations just because the government you voted for decided to introduce laws that protect you and the private corporations cry about it. Is that really what you want?

KennedyBAJ

"It is the duty of the Patriot to protect his country from his government."

~ Thomas Jefferson

mike

ok im new to this site.Where is the info as to where the leak came from?

Jason Dean

It scares me to think how many Shirley Gallaghers there are out there.

mike

ok found it all 52 pages.sometimes i just dont understand thats why im here

Some guy

@Ruth Townsend - Wherever did you get the mistaken impression that you live in a democracy?????

m dillehay

Ruth Townsend..... we are not a democracy, we are a republic. With a democracy, everyone has a say, everyone has a vote, that's not how things work here. In a republic you vote for people to speak and interpret you desires and needs and they make decisions for you, that is how things worm here. I've always thought it amusing that a republic nation is supposedly trying to spread democracy.

This whole thing just proves my thoughts that the U.S. government is out for themselves and their wallets and not for the people. If the government had our best interests in mind, we would all have = rights dispite race, creed, gender, or orientation.

René Kabis

M Dillehay: Actually, you are wrong about the *type* of government that is the United States.

If you examine what has happened to the U.S. political system over the last half a century, from the balkanization of voting options into two monolithic parties to the recent ruling of “corporations are people” (Citizens United) so that business interests can hijack the political process with unlimited campaign funds, you will come to the inescapable conclusion that the States are no longer a Republic. Even large swaths of the population no longer have any effect on the political landscape, because politicians now respond only to their true masters… their campaign contributors… many (if not most) of whom are businesses and members of the 1% (the economic elite).

America has not been a Republic in a very long time, and now can only be described as an Oligarchic Plutocratic Kleptocracy. It has been hijacked as a vessel to enshrine the 1%, to defend the 1% against the 99%, and to steal from the 99% in order to maintain the power and control that the 1% have over them.

“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the Government, there is tyranny.” - John Basil Barnhill

The U.S. Government has lost what little fear it had of its populace a long time ago. Its eagerness to resort to police-state tools (Homeland Security) and despotic anti-freedom laws (SOPA, PIPA, NDAA, etc.) should frighten the living daylights out of anyone who has more than two functioning neurons to rub together.

Mark Talmont

So, Obama is a total sell-out to the 1%. Just like Bill "export jobs" Clinton.

You left-leaners who want socialism so much, you're going to get it. I don't think it's going to be much like you expected, though, more like former Soviet Union meets Tijuana.

To the unionists who think they're protected, take a look at Stockton. That's where the whole country is going after the Democrats in the Senate sell you out again, just like they did on NAFTA, WTO, and the repeal of Glass-Steagal. But you can have "comprehensive" immigration reform and run down wages even faster than ever!

nike shox r4

To the unionists who think they're protected, take a look at Stockton. That's where the whole country is going after the Democrats in the Senate sell you out again, just like they did on NAFTA, WTO, and the repeal of Glass-Steagal. But you can have "comprehensive" immigration reform and run down wages even faster than ever!

Eemil Lumme

That is really a good new for all investors,well now days that issue should be fix,we all know that most of the investors give all their wealth and sometimes you to lend money and have a debt,in Finland country those issue are solve and i am glad you post it here.

Mike

It's interesting to me that Australia has refused to be part of this. Australia seems to see things a lot differently then the U.S. At least that's what I think.

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“The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of TPP negotiations,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “Via closed-door negotiations, U.S. officials are rewriting swaths of U.S. law that have nothing to do with trade and in a move that will infuriate left and right alike have agreed to submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of foreign tribunals that can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations that don’t want to comply with the same laws our domestic firms do.”

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