Leaked Document Shows Damaging Corporate Powers in TPP

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has largely been negotiated in secret. This has angered many who are concerned about what damaging details may be included in the deal, and a document leaked today confirms these suspicions. Despite promises from President Obama during his campaign, this document shows that foreign corporations will gain the right to challenge U.S. laws in secret tribunals. This is an affront to American sovereignty and the laws we choose to abide by as citizens. These negotiations need to be brought into the light of day so that Americans can see how damaging this free trade deal is before it is too late.

According to the leaked document, American laws regarding labor, environmental or financial issues would apply to companies based in America, but foreign companies dealing with the U.S. could challenge these laws in a secret international tribunal if they felt inhibited in their ability to do business. If the tribunal rules in favor of the corporations, the U.S. could be forced to overturn the law or face sanctions or penalties from member countries.

However damaging this may be, it is not a new idea. Chapter 11 of NAFTA provides for similar powers for corporations, and the new trade agreement with South Korea contains a like provision. With these rules in place, a foreign company can sue because an American restriction on lead in toys has cut into their profits. Damages may be awarded or the law may be overturned and American taxpayers would be on the hook for the expense, no matter how justified the law was to begin with.

President Obama specifically stated while campaigning in 2008 that he would not pass free trade agreements with this kind of provision.

“We will not negotiate bilateral trade agreements that stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors; require the privatization of our vital public services; or prevent developing country governments from adopting humanitarian licensing policies to improve access to life-saving medications,” stated an Obama campaign document.

Clearly that campaign promise has gone out the window. Who knows what other damaging provisions may be lurking in the TPP? Corporations have a seat at the table, but the American people have been left in the dark during these negotiations. Transparent government and good government go hand in hand, and the TPP negotiations are shrouded in secrecy. This cannot end well for the American people.

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