March 26, 2015
The New York Times reports: “The Trans-Pacific Partnership — a cornerstone of Mr. Obama’s remaining economic agenda — would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations. …
“The chapter in the draft of the trade deal, dated Jan. 20, 2015, and obtained by The New York Times in collaboration with the group WikiLeaks, is certain to kindle opposition from both the political left and the right.”
WikiLeaks notes in the group’s analysis of the TPP investment chapter: “The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.”
PATRICK WOODALL, pwoodall at fwwatch.org, @foodandwater
Research director and senior policy advocate for Food & Water Watch, Woodall said today: “The leaked Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) investment provisions provide a new and powerful avenue for foreign corporations to attack commonsense public health, environmental and consumer safeguards. They are designed to provide special rights for corporations at the expense of the public interest, letting foreign companies demand financial compensation in response to federal, state and local laws and regulations they feel harm their investments.
“The TPP would empower companies from New Zealand, Australia and Japan with new rights to attack our federal and local laws. For example, one natural gas company has already challenged a fracking moratorium in the Canadian province of Quebec under NAFTA’s investment provisions. These corporate lawsuits have a chilling effect on communities that want to protect their citizenry but lack the resources to defend against a colossal corporate lawsuit, including the more than 250 localities (including New York state) that have banned or imposed moratoriums on fracking.
“The leaked investment text highlights the lack of TPP transparency. It includes a provision that keeps the investment chapter confidential until four years after the TPP goes into effect. If these special rights for corporate interests are so beneficial, why must it be classified?”
SEAN FLYNN, sflynn at wcl.american.edu
Flynn is associate director of the Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property at the Washington College of Law at American University. He just wrote the piece “Leaked TPP ISDS Chapter Threatens Intellectual Property Limitations and Exceptions,” which states: “Today’s leak of the Investor State Dispute Settlement chapter proposed for the Trans Pacific Partnership [PDF] agreement would give new rights to private companies to challenge limitations and exceptions to copyrights, patents, and other intellectual property rights inunaccountable international arbitration forums. The text contains the same provisions that are being used by Eli Lilly to challenge Canada’s invalidation of patent extensions for new uses of two medicines originally developed in the 1970s. The same language is also being used by Philip Morris to challenge Uruguay’s regulation of advertising on cigarette packages as an ‘expropriation’ of their trademarks. But the TPP language goes farther. It includes a new footnote, not previously released as part of any other investment chapter and not included in the U.S. model investment text — clarifying that private expropriation actions can be brought to challenge ‘the cancellation or nullification of such [intellectual property] rights,’ as well as ‘exceptions to such rights.’
“Instead of combating the ability to bring cases such as Eli Lilly’s, it invites them. Any time a national court — including in the U.S. — invalidates a wrongfully granted patent or other intellectual property right, the affected company could appeal that revocation to foreign arbitrators.”
ILANA SOLOMON, via Dan Byrnes, daniel.byrnes at sierraclub.org
Solomon is director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program. She said today: “It is outrageous that we have to continue to rely on leaked texts to expose the details of this trade pact — and that every leak confirms the threats of the Trans-Pacific Partnership to clean air and water.
“If the Trans-Pacific Partnership locks in this flawed text, the trade deal would expand a system of investor privileges provided in NAFTA that threatens new safeguards on our air, water, and climate — from fracking moratoriums to carbon-pollution reductions to anything in between.
“Trade negotiators must release the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership so that the public and our policy makers can have a real conversation about its impacts on communities, our environment, and the climate. Members of Congress must be able to take a fine-toothed comb to trade deals and reject fast track, which would eliminate their ability to ensure that the rules of this and other trade deals actually put people before polluter profits.”