Historic Trade Deal Confirms Critics’ Worst Fears

Friday, November 6, 2015

The United States government released the final text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Thursday, and a wide array of advocacy groups did not like what they saw.

Organizations promoting climate change action and global health have long argued that the 12-nation trade deal would undermine participating countries’ freedom to set and preserve their own economic and social policies. The groups based their conclusions on drafts of select chapters of the 12-nation trade deal, which were leaked over the course of the past year. Now that the final text has emerged with few changes, their criticism has only grown stronger.

Here’s what advocacy groups are saying about the following key policy areas:

National Sovereignty

A fear that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will give corporations undue influence over public policy in the U.S. and other countries remains at the heart of objections to the trade deal.

Critics are especially concerned about a legal process TPP establishes for enforcing new regulations called “investor-state dispute settlement,” or ISDS. ISDS allows foreign companies to challenge a participating country’s laws before an international tribunal of judges if they think that law excessively limits their investors’ profits. The tribunals have the power to levy fines on the government should they rule in favor of the companies, which could in turn prompt countries to change their laws and deter them from passing similar measures in the future.

Concerns about returns are only one kind of grievance foreign companies can use ISDS to address. They can also use the system to challenge an array of less contentious practices, like expropriation of property and breach of contract. And ISDS is a feature of many trade agreements.

Source: The Huffington Post (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
climate change, international trade, public policy