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Seven Ways TPP Favours Mega-rich Foreign Investors, Not Canadians

Seven Ways TPP Favours Mega-rich Foreign Investors, Not Canadians

And why there’s still time for Trudeau to reject it.

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The Trudeau government still has options to push for renegotiation or to decline either to sign or to ratify the TPP on Canada’s behalf. Protest photo by arindambanerjee via Shutterstock.

The Harper government agreed to the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal with 12 countries including the U.S., Canada and Japan, shortly before the federal election on Oct. 19. Yet the TPP text was not made public until after the election.

Before it can enter into force, the TPP must be signed and then ratified by member countries. Therefore, the Trudeau government has options to push for renegotiation or to decline either to sign or to ratify the deal on Canada’s behalf.

In this article, I offer seven reasons why the TPP’s provisions on foreign investor protection — mostly found in its chapters on investment and financial services — should be rejected. These provisions reveal how the deal carries unacceptable risks for voters and taxpayers in TPP countries, while giving unjustified benefits to big multinationals and the super-wealthy.

1. The TPP would give special protections to foreign investors at significant public cost, without compelling evidence of a public benefit.

Like other trade agreements, the TPP would give foreign investors special rights to protect their assets by suing countries for compensation in the face of laws, regulations and other decisions that the foreign investor thinks are unfair. These potent international rights are not available to domestic investors or anyone else, even in the most extreme situations of mistreatment.

Why should foreign investors have a special global status and, effectively, a generous public subsidy against the economic risks of democracy and regulation that apply to everyone? The onus should be on promoters of the TPP to give compelling evidence of a corresponding benefit of foreign investor protections for the public. To my knowledge, they have not yet done so.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Transcanada’s $15 Billion Lawsuit Against U.S. is a Bad Omen for Trans-Pacific Partnership

WHY TRANSCANADA’S $15 BILLION LAWSUIT AGAINST U.S. IS A BAD OMEN FOR TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

The latest expression of our corporate-controlled economic structure revealed itself last week when TransCanada, the Canadian-based energy giant that hoped to build the Keystone XL pipeline, filed a $15 billion lawsuit against the United States government for rejecting the pipeline’s construction, under guidelines set forth in NAFTA. The lawsuit presents the most recent evidence of the prioritization of corporate profits and interests over the rights of citizens in a sovereign, domestic nation. Yet instances like this will only increase with the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

In a statement accompanying the news, TransCanada announced that it had “undertaken a careful evaluation of the Administration’s action and believe there has been a clear violation of NAFTA and the U.S. Constitution in these circumstances.” The company also called the government’s decision to reject the pipeline “arbitrary and unjustified.”

Arbitrary and unjustified indeed. The pipeline, about 1,200 miles long, would have carried over 830,000 daily barrels of crude oil, or tar sands, from Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the Gulf Coast. It would have been built over precious aquifers throughout the midwestern U.S., namely the Ogallala Aquifer. It would also violate tribal sovereignty and potentially pose problems with eminent domain – where landowners would be forced to give up their land to a foreign corporation under the argument that it was somehow serving the “public interest.”

How dare we, as a free nation, come to the conclusion that this pipeline is bad for our country?

But here’s the real kicker: not only can TransCanada sue the U.S. government over the costs of the project, but the company is also allowed to seek an array of damages taking the form of “expected future profits.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Surprise! Corporate America Is Throwing Down for the TPP

Surprise! Corporate America Is Throwing Down for the TPP

Flurry of big business endorsements is likely aimed at building congressional momentum for mega-deal

Both the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership this week. (Photo: Lane Oatey/Getty Images)

Both the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership this week. (Photo: Lane Oatey/Getty Images)

American big business has now officially endorsed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), giving many all the proof they need that the 12-nation deal—poised to be the largest ever—is bad news for people and the planet.

An association of Chief Executive Officers known as the Business Roundtable (BRT) announced its formal backing on Tuesday, indicating that it plans to use its muscle to press Congress to approve the deal this year. In fact, BRT president John Engler told The Hill that the association wants the TPP to pass as quickly as possible—before the summer.

That endorsement followed Monday’s announcement from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) that it is throwing its weight behind the pact. “Open markets encourage cooperation and prosperity among nations and governments, rather than conflict, and the NAM has a long and proud history of promoting free and fair trade,” saidNAM President and CEO Jay Timmons.

With these two endorsements now established, some predict that the powerful U.S. Chamber of Commerce will be next.

To be sure, multinational corporations have already been heavily influential in the TPP negotiations, which have been conducted in near complete secrecy.

But the endorsements this week appear to be calculated to add momentum to the deal in Congress. Because the U.S. Senate passed Fast Track authority this summer, lawmakers will not be able to debate or amend the deal. But both houses must ratify the TPP, which will likely be submitted by the White House in the early spring.

Civil society groups are still holding out hope that grassroots pressure can persuade legislators to vote down the TPP.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

More Corporate Cronyism and Shadiness Revealed in Newly Released Obamatrade Report

More Corporate Cronyism and Shadiness Revealed in Newly Released Obamatrade Report

The good news is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recently admitted that the TPP, aka Obamatrade, has very little chance of passing Congress before next year’s Presidential election. The bad news is the main reason for this is because the RINOs in charge don’t think it represents enough of a giveaway to multi-national mega corporations.

All that aside, David Dayen just published a very valuable piece detailing the findings of a 121-page report critiquing the TPP by the Labor Advisory Committee.

Here’s more from Naked Capitalism:

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office has been maligned for its network of Trade Advisory Committees, allegedly “independent” counsel for trade agreements. The Washington Post did the best work on the Advisory Committees back in February of last year, showing that 85 percent of the cleared advisors (meaning cleared to read the text of trade agreements as they are being negotiated) either worked directly for private industries or their trade groups.

But there’s another, more obscure group called the Labor Advisory Committee. Its 19 members are all the heads of major labor unions (Clayola Brown, president of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, I guess technically isn’t, but that organization is a constituency group of the AFL-CIO). And like all Advisory Committees, they are required by law to write a report to Congress expressing their opinions about any finalized trade agreement. That means we now have this 121-page document, giving labor’s full argument against the TPP, from the people who have been following it from the inside for several years.

It gets off to quite a start in the first words of the executive summary:

On behalf of the millions of working people we represent, we believe that the TPP is unbalanced in its provisions, skewing benefits to economic elites while leaving workers to bear the brunt of the TPP’s downside. The TPP is likely to harm the U.S. economy, cost jobs, and lower wages.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

TPP a Gift to Plutocrats? Canada’s Trade Minister Wrote the Book on Them

TPP a Gift to Plutocrats? Canada’s Trade Minister Wrote the Book on Them

As journalist, Chrystia Freeland chronicled global wealth dividers.

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Chrystia Freeland’s financial journalist credentials made her a star candidate for the Liberals. Photo: Joseph Morris. Creative commons licensed.

Canada’s new trade minister has sitting on her desk the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal some say will accelerate the gap between rich and poor by protecting corporations’ interests over those of workers and governments.

The winners, say high profile critics, will be captains of global finance and others already so moneyed they’ve earned the moniker plutocrats.

That’s a class of people Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland knows extremely well. Plutocrats is the title she gave her 2012 book about how they are sucking up riches for themselves as income inequality grows. Freeland takes readers into the world of the super-rich, who play by different rules and lead opulent and vastly different lives than the rest of the human race.

The former reporter for the Financial Times goes at the wealthy and powerful hard, pointing out how their success is coinciding with the destruction of “everyone else.”

That puts Freeland in an interesting position, to say the least, as she mulls whether and how to manage passing the TPP, which was negotiated in secret by the recently ousted Conservative government, but endorsed by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the election.

TPP as inequality accelerator

Freeland must be aware of criticism, coming from a range of respected sources, that the TPP will widen the wealth gap in developing countries as well as the U.S. and Canada.

“If the Trans-Pacific Partnership is enacted,” Robert Reich, secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, has warned “big corporations, Wall Street, and their top executives and shareholders will make out like bandits. Who will the bandits be stealing from? The rest of us.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Democracy Sold Out to Greed

Democracy Sold Out to Greed

While the “free Western media” cheers, the Western “democratic” governments sell out the peoples of the Western world to corporate tyranny


John Massaria has turned my interview with Julian Charles into a video.

The video helps me to bring home that “Western democracy” is a sham, a total lie.

Every Western government and Washington’s Asian vassal states are totally under the control of private corporations and private interest groups. The corporations govern, and they are in the process of institutionalizing their governance with the Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic Partnerships. The purpose of these “partnerships” is to make global corporations higher than the laws of the “sovereign” countries in which they do business.

Anything, whether law, rule, regulation, or moral principle that interferes with corporate profits is outlawed as “a resraint on trade.”

Western civilization is over and done with. Nothing remains except historical achievements that are no longer understood or appreciated.

€100,000 Reward for Europe’s Most Wanted Secret

€100,000 Reward for Europe’s Most Wanted Secret

WTO Ruling on Dolphin-Safe Tuna Labeling Illustrates Supremacy of Trade Agreements

International trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) need to be carefully examined piece by piece because they can take precedence over a country’s own laws.

Case in point: the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Friday ruled that dolphin-safe tuna labeling rules — required by U.S. law, in an effort to protect intelligent mammals from slaughter — violate the rights of Mexican fishers.

As a result, the U.S. will have to either alter the law or face sanctions from Mexico.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how the “investor-state dispute settlement system” baked into trade agreements can force countries to compensate corporations when regulations cut into their profits.

The long-running quarrel over tuna reveals another way that domestic laws can be overturned by trade agreements: when countries can file trade challenges on behalf of domestic industries.

“This should serve as a warning against expansive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would replicate rules that undermine safeguards for wildlife, clean air, and clean water,” said the Sierra Club’s Ilana Solomon in a statement.

In the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972, the United States banned importation of yellowfin tuna harvested with netting that also scooped up dolphins, which often swim in the eastern Pacific Ocean above yellowfin schools. Since the 1950s, millions of dolphins have been killed in the tuna fishing trade, but the MMPA resulted in significant reductions in dolphin deaths.

Mexico, which has more lax fishing standards than the U.S., launched trade challenges in 1990 to overturn the import ban. Other nations piled on to the trade challenges, seeking to force the U.S. to change its dolphin conservation practices.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Ultimate Weapon in Existential Struggle: Using the TPP for Hostile Takeover of Mexican Agriculture

Ultimate Weapon in Existential Struggle: Using the TPP for Hostile Takeover of Mexican Agriculture

Resisting Monsanto, the world’s largest, most influential GMO giant, is an almost impossible task. The corporation boasts more back channels and revolving doors with national governments and regulators than just about any other company on the planet, not to mention a fearsome army of corporate lawyers and lobbyists.

Few countries are more aware of this fact than Mexico, where a small collective of activist groups, scientists, artists and gourmet chefs have been engaged in a titanic legal struggle with Monsanto. Although they keep winning crucial battles, the war is still likely to be won by Monsanto, thanks to one key weapon in its arsenal: the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

An Existential Struggle

For Mexican smallholders and consumers, the struggle with Monsanto & Friends is an existential one. In a 2013 ruling banning the cultivation of GMOs in Mexico, Judge Manuel Zaleta cited the potential risks to the environment posed by GMO corn. If the biotech industry got its way, he argued, more than 7000 years of indigenous maize cultivation in Mexico would be endangered, with the country’s 60 varieties of corn directly threatened by cross-pollination from transgenic strands.

In the last two years scores of appeals were brought against Zaleta’s ruling by the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta, and Dupont as well as Mexico’s Ministries of Agriculture and Environment. All of them were quashed. But then in August this year, a judge with a more sympathetic ear overturned Zaleta’s ruling [read… Mexican Gourmet Chefs Sharpen Knives in Global Food War]. The resistance, it seemed, had finally crumbled.

But a lot can happen in three months. In early November, federal judge Benjamin Soto Sánchez “upheld a provisional suspension prohibiting federal agencies from processing and granting the privilege of sowing or releasing into the environment of transgenic maize in the country.” In other words, Monsanto & Friends were back to square one.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pacific Trade Deal Will Test Trudeau’s Resolve

Pacific Trade Deal Will Test Trudeau’s Resolve

As chorus of critics sound alarm, this is PM’s chance to show us he’s listening.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau renewed his promise to listen to labour’s TPP concerns this week.

Justin Trudeau has proven to be much more bold in his first couple of weeks than almost anyone imagined. Unlike Jean Chrétien and his 1993 election Red Book, Trudeau actually seems to be intent on keeping many of his promises.

Most importantly he has done what no other premier or prime minister in my memory has ever done. He has put numerous people in ministries who actually have a passion for their portfolios: a doctor in charge in health care, a potato farmer in charge of agriculture, an Aboriginal former treaty commissioner in justice, a former CIDA staff person in charge of international development. Prime ministers who want to exercise executive control don’t do this. Trudeau, it seems, genuinely wants to run a government by cabinet.

But the real measure of how bold Trudeau will be is how he deals with the economy. After all it is the economic ministries — finance, the treasury board, international trade most prominent among them — that are most directly responsible for managing capitalism, something every federal government has to do no matter what their ideology is. The Liberals have always been a Bay Street party and any move away from that tradition seems unlikely. The biggest test Trudeau will face on this front is right on the top of the issues pile: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

First off, let’s be clear that these “trade” agreements are only nominally about trade — they are actually, as economist Jeffrey Sachs says “investment protection agreements.” And for every Canadian government starting with Brian Mulroney’s the almost exclusive economic policy for this country has been a focus on attracting international investment.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Former BlackBerry Chief on TPP: ‘We’ve Been Outfoxed’

Former BlackBerry Chief on TPP: ‘We’ve Been Outfoxed’

Jim Balsillie says treaty could cost Canada billions and become our worst-ever policy move.

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Canada’s innovation sector could suffer billions in losses if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is ratified, warns Jim Balsillie, former co-chief executive of BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd.

Jim Balsillie warns that provisions tucked into the Trans-Pacific Partnership could cost Canada hundreds of billions of dollars — and eventually make signing it the worst public policy decision in the country’s history.

After poring over the treaty’s final text, the businessman who helped build Research In Motion Ltd. into a $20-billion global player said the deal contains “troubling” rules on intellectual property that threaten to make Canada a “permanent underclass” in the economy of selling ideas.

Last month, in the middle of the election campaign, the Conservative government put Canada’s signature on the controversial 12-country pact. The Pacific Rim agreement, which includes the massive American and Japanese economies, has been described as the world’s largest-ever trade zone.

But Balsillie said parts of the deal will harm Canadian innovators by forcing them to play by rules set by the treaty’s most-dominant partner: the United States.

The fallout could prove costly for Canada because technologies created by these entrepreneurs have the potential to create huge amounts of wealth for the economy, he says.

“I’m not a partisan actor, but I actually think this is the worst thing that the Harper government has done for Canada,” the former co-chief executive of RIM said in an interview after studying large sections of the 6,000-page document, released to the public last week.

“I think in 10 years from now, we’ll call that signature the worst thing in policy that Canada’s ever done…

“It’s a treaty that structures everything forever — and we can’t get out of it.”

‘Iron-clad’ dispute mechanisms

Balsillie’s concerns about the deal include how it would impose intellectual property standards set by the U.S., the biggest partner in the treaty.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Breaking: Trans-Pacific Partnership Ignores Climate, Asks Countries to Volunteer to Protect the Environment

Breaking: Trans-Pacific Partnership Ignores Climate, Asks Countries to Volunteer to Protect the Environment

In March, the White House was touting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on its blog stating:

Through TPP, the Obama administration is doubling down on its commitment to use every tool possible to address the most pressing environmental challenges.”

Reviewing the environment section of the just-released TPP, one thing becomes quite clear. Climate change is not considered one of the “most pressing environmental challenges.”

In the summary of the environmental section posted by the US government it doesn’t mention the climate but does mention the “energy revolution” under the heading of “Transition to a Low-Emissions Economy”.

TPP countries recognize that the world is in the midst of an energy revolution. The agreement includes commitments to cooperate to address issues such as energy efficiency; the development of cost-effective, green technologies; and alternative, clean and renewable energy sources.

And when it comes to Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) the language promises “reinforcements” to these commitments even though they “may lack binding enforcement regimes.”

TPP countries are signatories to many MEAs covering a wide range of environmental issues. However, these agreements may lack binding enforcement regimes. By requiring MEA implementation, TPP provides valuable reinforcements to these commitments.

And, of course, there is the part about encouraging companies to volunteer to protect the environment.

The Environment chapter includes commitments to encourage companies to voluntarily adopt corporate social responsibility policies, and to use mechanisms, such as public-private partnerships, to help to protect the environment and natural resources.

So, it appears that the TPP doesn’t consider climate change an important issue but as the world continues its “energy revolution” that countries can volunteer to protect the environment.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trans-Pacific Partnership text has been released

Trans-Pacific Partnership text has been released

Canada has entered into side letters with U.S., Japan, Malaysia as part of deal

New Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, left, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seen with Canadian Governor General David Johnston, right, will be challenged early by how they respond to a critical economic agreement that was negotiated by their predecessors.

New Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland, left, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seen with Canadian Governor General David Johnston, right, will be challenged early by how they respond to a critical economic agreement that was negotiated by their predecessors. (Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images)

The long-awaited text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal was released on Thursday, revealing the details of a pact aimed at freeing up commerce in 40 per cent of the world’s economy but criticized for its opacity.

The partners — which in addition to Canada include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam — have made commitments to discourage imports of goods produced by forced labour and to adopt laws on acceptable working conditions, and the first prohibition on harmful fisheries subsidies.

But TPP, which will set common standards on issues ranging from workers’ rights to intellectual property protection in 12 Pacific nations, was kept largely from public scrutiny, angering transparency advocates concerned over its broad implications.

The Liberals, before assuming power, criticized the Conservative government for a lack of transparency regarding what Canada may have given up in the negotiations, although they support the notion of free trade.

Justin Trudeau, in a statement on Oct. 5, promised “a full and open public debate in Parliament to ensure Canadians are consulted on this historic trade agreement.”

Ed Fast

Ed Fast, seen speaking to reporters on Sept. 30 from the site of the most recent talks, Atlanta, said he believed the deal could be worth about $3.5 billion of additional economic activity to Canada. (Alex Panetta/The Canadian Press)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trade deals boosting climate change: the food factor

Trade deals boosting climate change: the food factor

The climate talks in Paris in December this year are viewed as a last chance for the world’s governments to commit to binding targets that might halt our march towards catastrophe. But in the countdown to Paris, many of these same governments have signed or are pushing a raft of ambitious trade and investment deals that would pre-empt measures that they could take to deal with climate change (see box 1).

What we know of these deals so far, from the few texts that have leaked out of the secretive negotiations, is that they will lead to more production, more trade and more consumption of fossil fuels – at a time of global consensus on the need for reductions.1 In particular, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are expected to result in increased EU reliance on fossil fuel imports from North America, as well as a restriction of policy space to promote low carbon economies and renewables. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a mega-pact involving 14 countries in Asia and the Americas that was concluded earlier this month, is expected to result in more gas exports from the US to the Pacific Rim countries. The new deals will also extend investor-state dispute settlement provisions which companies are already using through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to reverse moratoriums on fracking and other popular environmental measures implemented by governments.2

Less has been said about how the provisions dealing with food and agriculture in these deals will affect our climate. But the question is vital, because food and farming figure hugely in climate change. From deforestation to fertiliser use, and from factory farms to supermarket shelves, producing, transporting, consuming and wasting food account for around half of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).3

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Global Corporatocracy’s Unborn Baby Just Got A Lot Bigger

Global Corporatocracy’s Unborn Baby Just Got A Lot Bigger

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is not yet fully alive: the agreement has been signed but still needs to be ratified by the governments of its signatory nations. Nonetheless, the corporatocracy’s unborn baby is growing at a startling rate.

Last week, the agreement boasted a grand total of 12 signatories (the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore) with a combined population of 800 million people. This week that number rose to 13 after Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo told U.S. President Barack Obama that the country he represents also wants a piece of the action.

“Indonesia is an open economy and with a population of 250 million, we are the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Indonesia intends to join the TPP,” Widodo said on Monday after meeting Obama in the White House.

If Indonesia does sign the agreement, it will bring the combined population of the TPP-bloc to over one billion people, not far off the population of the country the trade agreement was originally devised to encircle and corral — i.e., China (pop: 1.357 billion). The TPP bloc will also represent over 40% of the global economy.

Everyone But China?

The basic proposition behind TPP is disarmingly simple: either China joins or it will be isolated. This isolation would progress: first from its own back yard through the TPP and the Pentagon’s “Asian Pivot,” then from the West (through the TTIP and TISA), and ultimately from the rest of the global economy.

Such isolation could be ruinous, not only for China but the U.S, too. China and the U.S., when it comes to trade, are joined at the hip. China is the US’s most important trading partner. It has an enormous trade surplus with the US. If anything came in between Chinese exports to the US, China’s economy would collapse (and the US economy would grind to a halt).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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