1-22-14 What is different with TAFTA [pending Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement] (and TPP) is the extent of “behind the border” agenda
• Typical boilerplate: “Each Member shall ensure the conformity of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures with its obligations as provided in the annexed Agreements.” …
• These rules are enforced by binding dispute resolution via foreign tribunals with ruling enforced by trade indefinite sanctions; No due process; No outside appeal. Countries must gut laws ruled against. Trade sanctions imposed…U.S. taxpayers must compensate foreign corporations.
• Permanence – no changes w/o consensus of all signatory countries. So, no room for progress, responses to emerging problems
• Starkly different from past of international trade between countries. This is diplomatic legislating of behind the border policies – but with trade negotiators not legislators or those who will live with results making the decisions.
• 3 private sector attorneys, unaccountable to any electorate, many of whom rotate between being “judges” & bringing cases for corps. against govts…Creates inherent conflicts of interest….
• Tribunals operate behind closed doors – lack basic due process
• Absolute tribunal discretion to set damages, compound interest, allocate costs
• No limit to amount of money tribunals can order govts to pay corps/investors
• Compound interest starting date if violation new norm ( compound interest ordered by tribunal doubles Occidental v. Ecuador $1.7B award to $3B plus)
• Rulings not bound by precedent. No outside appeal.
Factsheets: TAFTA’s Threats
to Consumers and the Environment
The corporations advising TAFTA negotiators have bluntly named the consumer and environmental safeguards that the deal should dismantle:
Agribusiness: Weaken Food Safety Standards
Oil and Gas Corporations: Halt Green Energy Policies
Monsanto, et al: Remove GMO Labels and Limits
Foreign Firms: Empower Corporations to Attack Safeguards
a group of the largest U.S. and European banks, agribusinesses and other powerful industry groups want to rewrite these safeguards behind closed doors. For over a decade, they have pushed for a new U.S. “trade” deal with Europe – the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which corporate proponents have tried to rebrand as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a deal that would roll back protections on both sides of the Atlantic. Launched in July 2013, TAFTA negotiations are currently underway.
In the official document outlining TAFTA, the Obama administration has made clear that TAFTA will not primarily target trade, but “behind-the-border” policies such as health, environmental and financial protections. U.S. and EU corporations call these safeguards on which we all rely “trade irritants,”
The United States and European Union (EU) are in closed-door negotiations to establish aTrans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) that would elevate individual corporations to equal status with nation states. Seriously.
The pact is slated to include a foreign investor privileges scheme that would empower foreign corporations to bypass domestic laws and courts and demand taxpayer compensation for government actions or policies to safeguard clean air, safe food and stable banks.
This “investor-state” enforcement system would grant foreign firms the power to drag the U.S. and EU governments before extrajudicial tribunals — comprised of three private attorneys — that would be authorized to order unlimited taxpayer compensation for domestic health, financial, environmental and other public interest policies the corporations claim undermine their “expected future profits.” And, there would be no outside appeal. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-wallach/trade-deal-would-elevate_b_4143626.html
1-23-14 The manner in which TTIP is being negotiated is also not exactly increasing faith in the process. Everything related to the talks is being kept highly classified. Even though the deal will affect the futures and interests of 500 million EU citizens, member states agreed to keep them in the dark about TTIP negotiations. All papers, documents, emails and negotiating minutes have been marked secret. Only the senior-most party members in the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee are allowed to see documentation relating to the negotiations and they are forbidden from discussing what they see. Not even the negotiating mandate, upon which the talks are based, has been made public.
In addition, the US has forbidden the EU from passing along American position papers, even to members of the European Council and European Parliament — despite the fact that these same papers have been shared with 600 industrial lobbyists in the US.
The Commission has sought to counter accusations that the talks lack transparency with an unprecedented number of briefings and discussions with NGOs, parliamentarians and member state representatives. An advisory council made up of seven NGO representatives and seven business leaders was even established. The teams hold stake-holder meetings during the negotiating rounds and listen closely to the brief presentations made by industry and NGO representatives.
Martin Häusling, a European Parliamentarian from the Green Party, calls it a “faux consultation process.” A member of the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, he says that the briefs they receive rarely go beyond the tenor of the talks, with details being rare. “What is really being negotiated remains unclear,” he says. He doesn’t accept the argument that the talks must remain confidential for strategic reasons. “Even the World Trade Organization makes its negotiation papers public,” he says.
With good reason. Anyone who has ever been involved in the drawing up of a delicate contract knows that every comma and every clause is vital. “Without the exact text, nobody can determine exactly what is at stake,” says Pia Eberhard of CEO