A Transatlantic Corporate Bill of Rights:http://bit.ly/17GIvWg
"The [European] Commission’s proposal for investor-state dispute settlement [ISDS] under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would enable US companies investing in Europe to skirt European courts and directly challenge EU governments at international tribunals, whenever they find that laws in the area of public health, environmental or social protection interfere with their profits. EU companies investing abroad would have the same privilege in the US."
Illustration by Chris Van Es
The EU’s Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Michel Barnier, has been barnstorming the US, looking for support to include financial services as part of the talks on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Meanwhile, the financial industry is pushing the talks as a way to overturn the pesky – and highly effective – rules being implemented in the US under the Dodd-Frank Act.
Tough new rules on derivatives, capital requirements, financial structure, consumer and investor protections, and the like could be jeopardized in the trade talks, with the US Congress able to hold only an up-or-down vote on a final agreement, which would encompass a broad range of topics. And other commentators view the talks as another forum for cooperation, hoping that trade negotiations will improve coordination among financial regulators.
The US would be wise to reject that view.
The United States and the European Union have embarked on a new round of trade talks, which holds out the promise of deepening the two sides’ already robust economic relationship. But the talks should not be used to weaken US financial reforms that are just taking root.
Read more at http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-eu-trade-talks-versus-financial-regulation-by-michael-s--barr#qWeIEwJGtVwRTuKT.99
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not about free trade.
It's a corporate coup d'etat--against us!
This time we really must pay attention, because TPP is not just another trade deal. First, it is massive and open-ended. It would hitch us immediately to 11 Pacific Rim nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam), and its door would remain wide open to lure China, Indonesia, Russia, and other nations to come in. Second, note that many of those countries already have trade agreements with the US. Hence, THIS AMAZING FACT: TPP is a "trade deal" that mostly does not deal with trade. In fact, of the 29 chapters in this document, only five cover traditional trade matters!
The other two dozen chapters amount to a devilish "partnership" for corporate protectionism. They create sweeping new "rights" and escape hatches to protect multinational corporations from accountability to our governments... and to us. Here are a few of TPP's provisos that would make our daily lives riskier, poorer, and less free:
Food safety. Any of our government's food safety regulations (on pesticide levels, bacterial contamination, fecal exposure, toxic additives, GMOs, non-edible fillers, etc.) that are stricter than "international standards," as most are, could be ruled as "illegal trade barriers."....
Fracking. Our Department of Energy would lose its authority to regulate exports of natural gas to any TPP nation. This would create an explosion of the destructive fracking process across our land, for both foreign and US corporations could export fracked gas from America to member nations without any DOE review of the environmental and economic impacts on local communities--or on our national interests. It also means that most of the gas produced by this violently polluting process will not go to us, but to foreign users, which will raise our consumer prices and cut manufacturing growth.
Jobs. US corporations would get special foreign-investor protections to limit the cost and risk of relocating their factories to low-wage nations that sign onto this agreement. For example, an American corporation thinking about moving a factory would know it is guaranteed a sweetheart deal if it exports to a TPP nation like Vietnam. The corporation could skirt Vietnam's laws and demand compensation at an international tribunal for any government policy or action (such as a hike in the minimum wage) that undermined its "expected" profits. These guarantees would be strong incentives for corporate chieftains to export even more of our middle-class jobs.
Drug prices. Big Pharma would be given more years of monopoly pricing on each of their patents and be empowered to block distribution of cheaper generic drugs. Besides artificially keeping everyone's prices high, this would be a death sentence to many people suffering from cancer, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other treatable diseases in impoverished lands. The deal would also restrict the rights of our government to negotiate with drug giants to get lower consumer prices with bulk purchases, as Medicare and Medicaid do in the US.
Banksters. Wall Street and the financial giants in other TPP countries would make out like bandits: The deal explicitly prohibits transaction taxes (such as the proposed Robin Hood Tax here) that would shut down super-rich speculators who have repeatedly triggered financial crises and economic crashes around the world; it restricts "firewall" reforms that separate consumer banking from risky investment banking (thus prohibiting Congress from reinstating the much needed Glass-Steagall firewall in our country); it could roll back reforms that governments adopted to fix the extreme bank-deregulation regimen that caused Wall Street's 2007 crash; and it provides a backdoor escape from national rules that would limit the size of "too-big-to-fail" behemoths. These extreme provisions would be enforceable by the banks themselves--TPP empowers them to force governments either to repeal reform laws or to compensate banks with taxpayer money for "losses" they say are caused by reforms.
Internet freedom. Thanks to public rebellion, corporations hoping to lock up and monopolize the internet failed in Congress last year to pass their repressive "Stop Online Piracy Act." However, they've slipped SOPA's most pernicious provisions into TPP. Corporate-created content, for example, would be given copyright protection for a stunning 120 years! The deal would also transform internet service providers into a private, Big Brother police force, empowered to monitor our "user activity," arbitrarily take down our content, and cut off our access to the internet. To top that off, consumers could be assessed mandatory fines for non-commercial, small-scale copying--like sending your mom a recipe you got off of a paid site.
Public services. TPP rules would limit how governments regulate such public services as utilities, transportation, and education, including restricting policies meant to ensure broad or universal access to those essential needs. One especially insidious rule says that member countries must open their service sectors to private competitors, which would allow the corporate provider to cherry pick the profitable customers and sink the public service. Also, corporations from any TPP nation must be allowed to bid on contracts to provide public services in the US on the same terms as American corporations.
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's superb research and activist group, Global Trade Watch, correctly calls the Trans-Pacific Partnership "a corporate coup d'etat." Indeed, nations that join must conform their laws and rules to TPP's strictures, effectively supplanting US sovereignty and cancelling our people's right to be self-governing. Worse, it creates virtually permanent corporate rule over us--there's no expiration date on the agreement, and no provision in it can be altered unless all countries agree. Thus, even if Americans voted in an election to make changes, any other TPP country could overrule us by not agreeing.
WARNING--BUCKLE UP BEFORE READING THIS: Last year, Obama's top trade rep, Ron Kirk, declared that locking out the people is necessary, because the deal's details would outrage Americans and spook Congress from rubber stamping it. In short, to win public approval of TPP, the Obamacans say they must keep it hidden from the public.
Where, you might ask, is Congress? In the dark.