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If this Huffington Post article is accurate, the Obama administration's trade representative, Ron Kirk, has embraced provisions in international trade talks which would allow multinational corporations to appeal U.S. laws and regulations they don't like to an international tribunal under the auspices of the World Bank. And, potentially, get them overturned.

WASHINGTON -- A critical document from President Barack Obama's free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations was leaked online early Wednesday morning, revealing that the administration intends to bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations, contradicting prior promises.

The leaked document has been posted on the website of Public Citizen, a long-time critic of the administration's trade objectives. The new leak follows substantial controversy surrounding the secrecy of the talks, in which some members of Congress have complained they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials receive.

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.

The terms run contrary to campaign promises issued by Obama and the Democratic Party during the 2008 campaign.

"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," reads the campaign document.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership talks include Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. The talks do not include China or any other G8 nations; the only other G20 nation in the group is Australia. So it's not as though this treaty would immediately open the floodgates to a deluge of objections to U.S. laws and regulations. It does, however, appear to set a troubling and perilous precedent: if the United States agrees to these terms in one multinational trade agreement, it can hardly object to them in future talks, which may include nations that headquarter multinational corporations with substantial clout. Moreover, according to a Public Citizen press release, the TPP is unusual among international trading partnerships in that additional nations may join the group in the future and be granted all the same privileges as the negotiating members. Japan is not yet a formal partner in the talks but has announced its interest in joining the group, and Kirk has stated that he would welcome China's inclusion in the TPP.

Whatever one's degree of loyalty to President Obama and his administration may be, it's hard to see this policy position as anything but a betrayal of the consumer, labor and environmental protections that years of progressive advocacy have fought for and won.

Originally posted to Geenius at Wrok on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and German American Friendship Group.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (24+ / 0-)

    "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

    by Geenius at Wrok on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:20:46 AM PDT

  •  this is disgusting (10+ / 0-)

    more:

    "Bush was better than Obama on this," said Judit Rius, U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, referring to the medication rules. "It's pathetic, but it is what it is. The world's upside-down."

    The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative insists that while broad standards require many medical patents and IP rules that would increase the price of medications, the U.S. intends to work with countries involved in the Trans-Pacific talks to ensure that the agreement does not restrict access to life-saving drugs.

    USTR was not immediately available to comment on the newly leaked investment chapter of the Trans-Pacific deal, and has previously stated that it cannot comment on the terms of an allegedly leaked document.

    That statement is belied somewhat by recent American efforts in other international negotiations to establish controversial medical patents that grant companies long-term monopolies on life-saving medications.

    Those monopolies increase drug prices, which impede access to medications, particularly in developing nations. The World Health Organization and dozens of nonprofit public health groups have objected to the standards sought by the Obama administration.

    Two United Nations groups recently urged global governments not to agree to trade terms currently being advocated by the Obama administration, on the grounds that such rules would hurt public health.

  •  Shame on Obama (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Quasimodal, praenomen

    shame, shame, shame.

    Our country really has been bought.

    •  To be fair to Obama (7+ / 0-)

      it's not clear that he himself has embraced this position. He is, however, responsible for the actions of his appointees, and Ron Kirk is one of those appointees. So if he doesn't support this provision that Kirk is so eager to adopt, he needs to come out pronto and let the public know that Kirk is out of bounds.

      Not that he's done that with Arne Duncan, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Tom Vilsack . . . :-(

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:29:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  perhaps (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Geenius at Wrok, greenbastard

        but shame on him if his top trade guy is doing this behind Obama's back and against Obama's wishes.

        Heck, that might be even worse.

      •  Obama knows very well what is in that (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chipmo

        agreement. That's why he refused to allow Congress to see the terms he has hammered out behind closed doors with the head of Halliburton. If he follows his usual practices, it won't be long before he goes after the person who leaked the documents.

        I don't know what it will take to force Progressives to finally admit he is allowing corporations to run roughshod over our nation's protections - while he's promising to do the opposite on the campaign trail. His deceit is absolutely disgusting.

        "Bush was better than Obama on this," said Judit Rius, U.S. manager of Doctors Without Borders Access to Medicines Campaign, referring to the medication rules. "It's pathetic, but it is what it is. The world's upside-down."
        That's a pretty astute observation.
  •  NAFTA 2? GLAFTA? (an American-global variation) (6+ / 0-)

    There was very little relative outcry about NAFTA, though Public Citizen was absolutely right.

    It's pro-corporate to its core.

    Anyone have any ideas where this idea originated?  

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:30:00 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this, I've said if before and (11+ / 0-)

    I'll say it again: this place and liberal-world in general need to focus more on trade and globalization - one of class warfare's greatest weapons.

    •  What We Need to Do is Win Power. Is There a Way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P

      of focusing on trade that will help us do that?

      Even focusing on protecting people's personal Social Security and neighborhood teachers and firefighters doesn't seem to be any kind of slam dunk right now.

      And are there enough Democrats who want to change our trade direction?

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:49:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  BTW, think about this for a moment: (5+ / 0-)

    Remember the melamine/pet food/baby formula disaster?  

    Any theories about how a trade pact like this would effect THAT outcome both in terms of health and in terms of financials?  

    That debacle hurt both consumers/companiion animals/US corporations in a big way.  And while China felt it, they most certainly didn't feel it like we did.

    I'm really having trouble wrapping my mind around what this means for even consumer products.  Lead in kid's jewelry?

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:37:06 AM PDT

    •  If I remember correctly, it wasn't lead (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cany

      but cadmium.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is the first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk. Every state is totalitarian at heart; there are no ends to the cruelty it will go to to protect itself." -- Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 10:39:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Obama is a Democrat? (6+ / 0-)

    I find it more and more difficult to support this President everyday.  How could any Democrat support giving up Sovreignty and Democracy?

  •  Silly Nation-States (4+ / 0-)

    ..laboring under the delusion that they write the rules.

    Just wait until there are private armies..

    I'd rather be a "Tree-hugger" than a "Planet-raper" and a Destroyer of Worlds -- But I'm funny that way. I want a living Earth, not just a living room.

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:23:51 AM PDT

  •  I'm not as optimistic with regards to countries (7+ / 0-)

    I just read a Bloomberg article about the global shipment of mercury (a hazardous, toxic heavy metal) that is used in gold production in nations like Colombia. Because of EU restrictions that forbid mercury exports, it has become a shell game, where mercury shipments can pass through countries that are more permissive in order to reach the final destination. Of course, they've already used ports in Hong Kong and Singapore to do the dirty bidding. Whether or not China is involved seems moot to me. They'll just follow the money, whether it's Malaysia, and so forth, so long as its economically viable to them. They've won the political viability, or at least, they are now given a "vote" here. When private liberty can dictate public liberty, and conglomerates can tell sovereign nations what to do, what is the limit? It's the Fourteenth Amendment turned completely on its head. Corporations are people, guaranteed rights to life, liberty, and property. Need it be expanded upon?

    Multinationals have no allegiance to any particular sovereign country, they merely go down the path of least resistance where there are the least rules. What this would do, it seems to me, is completely nullify sovereign laws wherever a multinational sees fit. If we've reduced the protections from this to a single international tribunal, this is shockingly terrifying. We have nowhere to hide. Once again, citizens don't exist in this corporate sphere, only consumers who need to be "freed." It's chilling to say the least. Nowhere to hide.

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

    by rovertheoctopus on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 11:32:55 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for this diary (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Florene, aliasalias, tardis10, antirove, chipmo

    It should be on the rec list. Chris Hedges said it best:

    Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.
    Here is a condensed version of what this trade agreement does..
    http://www.commondreams.org/...
    Limit how U.S. federal and state officials could regulate foreign firms operating within U.S. boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms
     

    Extend the incentives for U.S. firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries;

    Establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges; and

     Allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms.

    “The airing of this one TPP chapter," said Wallach, "which greatly favors foreign corporations over domestic businesses and the public interest and exposes us to significant financial liabilities, shows that the whole draft text must be released immediately so it can be reviewed and debated. Absent that, these negotiations must be ended now.”

    This is what Obama is doing now before an election in secret. Can't wait to see what he does in the open if he wins his reelection bid.
  •  the environmental part also stinks (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    aliasalias, antirove, cany, chipmo

    Speaking to the environmental concerns raised by the leaked document, Margrete Strand Rangnes, Labor and Trade Director for the Sierra Club, an environmental group said, "Our worst fears about the investment chapter have been confirmed by this leaked text ... This investment chapter would severely undermine attempts to strengthen environmental law and policy."

    Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. --Edward Abbey

    by greenbastard on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 01:00:55 PM PDT

  •  Uh, this was the whole point of creating (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10

    the WTO and the constant attempts to expand it It is also a key purpose of NAFTA.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 01:56:25 PM PDT

  •  precedent (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    antirove
    It does, however, appear to set a troubling and perilous precedent: if the United States agrees to these terms in one multinational trade agreement, it can hardly object to them in future talks, which may include nations that headquarter multinational corporations with substantial clout.
    Are these investment provisions different than those in any other FTA?  This seems to be pretty standard language, so I’m not sure what precedent is being set here.

    History will be kind to us because we will write it.

    by Sky Net on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 04:21:30 PM PDT

  •  A couple of questions (0+ / 0-)

    Why is the document missing the title pages?

    And why is the British/Euro spelling used for the term "Most Favoured Nation".

    I find the latter a bit odd, and the former perplexing...it makes me wonder about this 'leak'.

    I want more actual details.

    "No one earns $100 million. You steal $100 million." --Fran Lebowitz

    by SNFinVA on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 06:55:03 PM PDT

    •  TPP (0+ / 0-)

      It’s probably missing the title page as it’s still a draft under negotiation.  They’ll probably put in the finishing touches when the negotiations are done.

      There are several countries in the negotiations that use the British spelling (Singapore, New Zealand, Australia), and maybe the text came from them.

      The big question is whether this is the latest version or one from last year?  It could all have completely changed.  There’s no date/time stamp so who knows.

      History will be kind to us because we will write it.

      by Sky Net on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 07:37:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whoever leaked this document... (0+ / 0-)

    I would seriously consider voting for them for President.

    The bourgeoisie had better watch out for me, all throughout this so called nation. We don't want your filthy money, we don't need your innocent bloodshed, we just want to end your world. ~H.R.

    by chipmo on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 07:35:41 PM PDT

    •  Not necessarily American (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chipmo

      There are eight other countries that could have been the ones to have leaked it.

      History will be kind to us because we will write it.

      by Sky Net on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 07:37:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Comment was mild snark (0+ / 0-)

        but good point, and agreed.

        The bourgeoisie had better watch out for me, all throughout this so called nation. We don't want your filthy money, we don't need your innocent bloodshed, we just want to end your world. ~H.R.

        by chipmo on Wed Jun 13, 2012 at 07:58:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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