In the US, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he opposes the ‘Trade Promotion Authority’ bill, which would fast-track the TPP and other trade deals. The bill would allow agreements to pass through Congress with limited debate and no amendments.
Politico reports that without Trade Promotion Authority, other countries participating in TPP negotiations (including Australia) will not have confidence that concessions made by the US in the TPP can be upheld, and will be unlikely to make their own concessions.
The TPP restricts our ability to place health warning labels on food and alcohol products, or to shift towards a more locally sustainable food production system.
The draft text of the environment chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a Chair's report were released by Wikileaks last week. Michael Safi writes for the Global Mail about the leaks, reporting that the environmental protections it does contain are "virtually meaningless", that many disagreements still remain, and that Australia and the United States are the only countries of the 12 negotiating the agreement to object to an article dealing with climate change.
The Philip Morris tobacco company is trying to use investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses in an obscure 1993 Australia-Kong Kong investment agreement to sue the government for damages in an international tribunal over the tobacco plain packaging legislation.
James Panichi reports that this case has disrupted trade talks between the United States and Europe as it calls into question the inclusion of ISDS clauses. Read the article on Inside Story.
"Under the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, Australia could be forced to pay foreign corporations not to dig up or destroy its coastline or native forests," he writes.
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Over the last decade the growing opposition to secrecy in trade negotiations has resulted in some examples of greater transparency. Since 2003 World Trade Organisation proposed texts, offers and background papers have been placed on the WTO public website.
A community-run forum on the TPP will be held in Melbourne's CBD on the 5th of Feburary from 6pm-7.30pm.
Speakers for the forum include:
Trade Minister Andrew Robb recently announced a free trade agreement with Korea which includes the right for foreign investors to sue our governments over Australian laws and policies. This undermines our national sovereignty and democracy, and would cost our governments millions of dollars.
But the deal has not yet been signed. Cabinet Ministers must endorse the agreement so that Minister Robb can sign it.