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US Senate Majority Leader opposes fast track for trade deals

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.

Read the article

Hostile Environment: TPP Green Chapter “Virtually Meaningless”

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.

Philip Morris, Australia and the fate of Europe’s trade talks

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.

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Petition: Stop foreign investors suing our governments – reject Korea trade deal

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.