07 Jan

Still unconvinced about the TPP? Unsure that NAFTA was awful?


Still unconvinced about the TPP? Unsure that NAFTA was awful? This just happened. (Important update)

By flitedocnm

Keystone pipeline company files NAFTA lawsuit

The company behind the Keystone XL pipeline has filed a legal challenge to its rejection, contending that President Barack Obama violated the North American Free Trade Agreement in killing the project…

In its challenge under NAFTA, TransCanada seeks monetary damages that could number in the billions for what it alleges is an “arbitrary” rejection by the White House, that was made more for symbolic value to bolster Obama’s fight against climate change.

Got that? Monetary damages could be “in the billions”.

Investor State Attacks like this are a fundamental part of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions of trade agreements like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). If anything, the TPP gives even more power to corporations to sue for loss of projected future earnings for things like limitations imposed by environmental concerns.

Public Citizen:

…A major goal of U.S. multinational corporations for the TPP is to impose on more countries a set of extreme foreign investor privileges and rights and their private enforcement through the notorious “investor-state” system. This system allows foreign corporations to challenge before international tribunals national environmental, land use, health and other laws and regulations that apply to domestic and foreign firms alike. Outrageously, this regime elevates individual corporations and investors to equal standing with each TPP signatory country’s government – and above all of us citizens. This regime empowers corporations to skirt national courts and sue our governments before tribunals of private sector lawyers operating under UN and World Bank rules to demand taxpayer compensation for domestic regulatory policies that investors believe diminish their “expected future profits.” Many of these regulatory policies are designed for environmental protection. For example, in 2012, the U.S. Lone Pine company launched a $250 million NAFTA investor-state case against a Canadian ban on fracking.

If a corporation “wins,” the taxpayers of the “losing” country must foot the bill. Over $400 million in compensation has already been paid out to corporations in a series of investor-state cases under NAFTA-style deals alone. This includes attacks on natural resource policies, toxics bans, zoning and permits, health and safety measures, and more. In fact, of the nearly $14 billion in the 15 claims now pending under NAFTA-style deals, all relate to environmental, financial, public health and transportation policy – not traditional trade issues. Governments have paid out over $3 billion to investors in investor-state disputes under U.S. FTAs and bilateral investment treaties (BITs) – over 85 percent of this related to oil, mining, gas, and other environmental and natural resource disputes…

Read on at the above link for a detailed description of “A review of just some of the outrageous anti-environment cases brought under this system [highlighting] the extreme peril of these radical investor privileges, and their investor-state private enforcement, being included in the TPP”.

Of course, the concerns about the TPP go far beyond its potentially devastating effect on environmental regulations.

But the 22nd anniversary of the implementation of NAFTA was just a few days ago. Here we are, almost a generation later, with a brand new example of the costs, both financial and environmental, of a neoliberal “trade” agreement, pushed by a Democratic President with the overwhelming support of Republicans, for the exclusive benefit of multi-national corporations.

Of our two Democratic candidates for the presidency, only one has shown a clear understanding of the very real devastating consequences of trade agreements that aren’t really about trade at all, but about protecting multi-national corporations and their profits. Bernie Sanders voted against NAFTA and other “free trade” agreements, and Bernie Sanders has been strongly opposed to the TPP from the outset. For Hillary Clinton, the TPP was the “gold standard” until a few days before the first Democratic Debate. **(Some of the other words Clinton used to describe the TPP before she left the State Department in 2013: “exciting,” “innovative,” “ambitious,” “groundbreaking,” “cutting-edge,” “high-quality” and “high-standard.”)* And after saying that the TPP “did not meet the high bar” she’d set, she made clear she would not work to promote opposition to the TPP amongst Democrats for the upcoming vote in Congress.

And as to opposition to the Keystone XL Pipeline?

**The McGlynn: Note-

In Australia in 2012, Clinton delivered remarks on the general topic of the U.S.-Australia relationship. Here’s everything she said about the TPP in that address, with the “gold standard” comment in bold.

“So it’s fair to say that our economies are entwined, and we need to keep upping our game both bilaterally and with partners across the region through agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP. Australia is a critical partner. This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field. And when negotiated, this agreement will cover 40 percent of the world’s total trade and build in strong protections for workers and the environment.”

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