T -Trade Trinity
TPP = Trans Pacific Partnership
TTIP = Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
Taking Power from the People.
The Free Trade Agreements that are being negotiated around the world pose an immediate threat to the sovereignty of every nation who signs on to them.
These agreements are being negotiated in
Since Wikileaks started leaking documents from these negotiations there has been a growing concern across the world as to the contents of these agreements and the affects the purported clauses will have on the integrity of national sovereignty.
“NAFTA is best understood as an agreement crafted by pirates and supported by technologically illiterate but often well-meaning sycophants. Representing only the interests of merchants and consumers, they merrily press on with their preindustrial agenda while informing the rest of us that WE don’t get it! All the while, countries like Germany and Japan that understand that people who make and buy things live better than those countries that merely shop, keep passing us in every relevant standard-of-living category”.
“Free trade is an historic failure of economic, industrial, and above all, ethical proportions. If production is unimportant, those who produce are irrelevant. Make someone irrelevant and invisible, and it is easy to justify slave wages or dangerous working conditions. Make it easy to exploit fellow humans, and the decision to rape mother nature is easy to make as well”.
The Canberra Times 21 February 2014
More than $3 billion has been paid by governments – that is to say, taxpayers – to corporations in investor-state disputes under existing US trade and investment agreements alone.
For example, US-based Ethyl sued Canada for $250 million for banning MMT, a toxic petrol additive. The ban was based on the public health and environmental risks posed by MMT, which is not used in most countries and even banned in the US in reformulated petrol. The case was settled for a lesser sum and Canada withdrew its ban.
After Chevron polluted the drinking water of tens of thousands of indigenous people in the Amazon with its waste products, an Ecuadorian court ordered the company to pay $18 billion for clean-up and damages. This decision was affirmed in an appeals court in 2012. Nevertheless an investor-state tribunal, citing the US-Ecuador bilateral investment treaty, ordered Ecuador not to enforce the ruling. This was even though the treaty came into effect years after the pollution occurred and Chevron had left Ecuador.
Last year Lone Pine, a US-chartered mining company, sued the Canadian government for $250 million for a ban on fracking in Quebec on the St. Lawrence River. It claimed the ban was ”arbitrary, capricious and illegal revocation of the [company’s] valuable right to mine for oil and gas”. The government said the ban was in response to an environmental assessment that showed the fracking was dangerous, as well as in response to public concern.
NSW regulations preventing coal seam gas recovery near residential areas could be subject to lawsuits if the TPP goes ahead with investor-state dispute settlement provisions. More recent treaties have the sort of ”safeguards” to protect government regulation in the public interest that Robb was referring to, but they are vaguely worded and dispute settlement cases are heard by tribunals of three private-investment lawyers whose decisions, although they trump all national courts, are beyond appeal. These tribunals tend to be concerned with assessing potential damage to investments rather than protection of public interest.
More than 500 investor-state disputes have been launched globally, 90 per cent of them since 2000. No country, however reliable its legal and political systems, is immune from them and even where cases are won by governments, it can cost millions of dollars to defend them. After all, the tribunal members are paid by the hour and have no reason to keep them brief.
Aljazeera America 29 September 2014
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) includes the U.S., Canada and 10 countries in South America and the Asia-Pacific region. Negotiators hope to reach a final pact by the end of this year, after 21 rounds of negotiations that began in 2009. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), in its seventh round of negotiations this week, would include the U.S. and the 28 member countries of the European Union. Both deals exclude the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
But with global tariffs already at an all-time low and hundreds of tons of merchandise traded across the Atlantic and Pacific every day, some argue that behind the negotiations is an agenda to deregulate crucial aspects of public policy to benefit global elites — at the expense of society as a whole.
Rather than boosting trade, she said, the agreements push corporate interests. “I’m not against trade, that’s not the point of this treaty. But you have to understand, 60 percent of that trade is between subsidiaries of the same company. It’s not exactly trade. It’s Renault trading with Renault, IBM trading with IBM. It’s about the regulations.”
Labor leaders remain skeptical about the effect trade agreements will have on inequality. “If you look at wages, then no one can say the trading system has really assisted workers,” said Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation. “We have a global wages slump over the last 30 years, which coincide[s]with major growth of global trade.”
Others, such as the International Trade Union Confederation’s Burrow, reject that notion. “This is absolutely not about global trade or competition. It’s about corporate greed and the dominance of government by major corporations who are simply interested in their own profits.”