US legislators disgusted by trade agreement

| March 30, 2015

At least some members of the US Congress who have had access to the previously secret document relating to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) are said to be disgusted by its contents, according to a New York Times story as reported by Leith van Onselen for the Australian publication MacroBusiness.

The agreement, which has come under fire from a wide range of organizations in a number of countries, is being negotiated in secret by representatives of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

The Times apparently reported that members of Congress have been reviewing the secret document in secure rooms; so their disclosures are the first to be made public since an early version was leaked in 2012.

But the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education (UCSF) last week published a piece from Public Citizen about the leak of the TPPA investment chapter.

The investment chapter reportedly revealed how the pact would make it easier for US firms to offshore US jobs to low-wage countries while newly empowering thousands of foreign firms to seek cash compensation from US taxpayers by challenging US government actions, laws and court rulings before unaccountable foreign tribunals, the Public Citizen said.

After five years of secretive TPPA negotiations, the text – leaked by Wikileaks – proved that growing concerns about the investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) system, which the TPP would extend, were well justified.

Meanwhile Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Senate’s No.3 Democrat, was reported by the Times to have described what he had read in the document as “really troubling”.

“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,” he was quoted as saying.

“I think people on both sides of the aisle will have trouble with this”…

Meanwhile, Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, was quoted as saying that while the US Trade Representative would say the US had never lost a case, there were going to be a lot more challenges in the future. “There’s a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for these companies,” he said.

Brown contended that the overall accord, not just the investment provisions, was troubling. “This continues the great American tradition of corporations writing trade agreements, sharing them with almost nobody, so often at the expense of consumers, public health and workers,” he said.

The UCSF story is at: https://tobacco.ucsf.edu/tpp-leak-reveals-extraordinary-new-powers-foreign-firms-challenge-us-policies-and-demand-taxpayer-compensation.

The MacroBusiness story is at: http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2015/03/tpp-bad-even-us-congress-shocked/.

Category: Breaking News

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