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USA & 11 Pacific Rim nations agree trade deal, critics warn it prioritises "rights" of companies over workers, the environment & democracy

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement between the USA, Japan, and 10 other Pacific Rim nations has been finalised. This deal, the largest trade agreement of its kind to date, will have major implications for the rights of workers and the enviroment. 

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21 October 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) & other trade deals threaten land governance & rights, according to recent studies

Author: Rachel Thrasher, Boston Univ. (USA) & Timothy A. Wise, Tufts Univ. (USA)

"Trading Away Land Rights: TPP, investment agreements, and the governance of land" 14 Oct 2015

As U.S. trade negotiators herd their Pacific Rim counterparts toward the final text of a long-promised Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), the investment chapter remains a point of contention. Like the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and most U.S. trade agreements since, the TPP text includes controversial provisions that limit the power of national governments to regulate incoming foreign investment and give investors rights to sue host governments for regulatory measures, even those taken in the public interest, that limit their expected returns...Sometimes, even before an investor enters the country, these investment treaties threaten land governance by extending the “right of establishment” to investors from partner countries. This means that under the TPP and most modern BITs [bilateral investment treaties], host countries must treat foreign investors on par with domestic investors, giving no priority to nationals even in sensitive areas such as land, minerals, and other natural resources...[M]any provisions of investment treaties would conflict with efforts by a government to implement the Voluntary Guidelines on the Governance of Land Tenure (VGGT) from the FAO, now the gold standard for appropriate recognition of land rights...[T]here are other investment treaty models out there. The Southern African Development Community drafted a model BIT with some of these threats to governance in mind...

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14 October 2015

The TPP Prioritizes the ‘Rights’ of Corporations Over Workers, the Environment, and Democracy

Author: John Nichols, The Nation (USA)

"The TPP Prioritizes the ‘Rights’ of Corporations Over Workers, the Environment, and Democracy", 7 Oct 2015

No matter what claims are made regarding side deals and “progressive” language, a trade agreement that allows secretive “dispute resolution” along lines that overwhelmingly favor multinational corporations undermines rather than strengthens worker rights and environmental protections...There is a lot that is wrong with the “free-trade” model embraced by Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama. But nothing is so wrong as the little-covered but hugely important threat to democracy itself in the form of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions, which Public Citizen says “formally prioritize corporate rights over the right of governments to regulate and the sovereign right of nations to govern their own affairs.”

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14 October 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership Is Reached, but Faces Scrutiny in Congress

Author: Jackie Calmes, New York Times (USA)

The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim nations on Monday reached final agreement on the largest regional trade accord in history, teeing up what could be the toughest fight President Obama will face in his final year in office: securing approval from Congress...The Pacific accord would phase out thousands of import tariffs as well as other barriers to international trade, like Japanese regulations that keep out some American-made autos and trucks. It also would establish uniform rules on corporations’ intellectual property, and open the Internet even in communist Vietnam...Key members of Congress in both parties and interest groups influential in Washington expressed ambivalence at best or outright opposition, though the agreement’s 30-chapter text will not be available for perhaps a month.

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14 October 2015

Why support TPP? Critics should read the agreement and keep an open mind

Author: Jeffrey Frankel, Professor at Harvard University, Guardian (UK)

[T]he TPP that has emerged is a pleasant surprise. The agreement gives pharmaceutical firms, tobacco companies, and other corporations substantially less than they had asked for – so much so that the US senator Orrin Hatch and some other Republicans now threaten to oppose ratification. Likewise, the deal gives environmentalists more than they had bothered to ask for...Among the environmental features, two stand out. The agreement includes substantial steps to enforce the prohibitions contained in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). It also takes substantial steps to limit subsidies for fishing fleets – which in many countries waste taxpayer money and accelerate the depletion of marine life. For the first time, apparently, these environmental measures will be backed up by trade sanctions...Similarly, various provisions in the area of labour practices, particularly in south-east Asia, are progressive. These include measures to promote union rights in Vietnam and steps to crack down on human trafficking in Malaysia.

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