Category Archives: TPP/TTIP

TPP is Not Dead: It’s Now Called the Trade In Services Agreement (TISA)

Pete Dolack writes for CounterPunch:

Photo by SumOfUs | CC BY 2.0Think the ideas behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the so-called “free trade” regime are buried? Sadly, no. Definitely, no. Some of the countries involved in negotiating the TPP seeking to find ways to resurrect it in some new form — but that isn’t the most distressing news. What’s worse is the TPP remains alive in a new form with even worse rules. Meet the Trade In Services Agreement, even more secret than the Trans-Pacific Partnership. And more dangerous.

The Trade In Services Agreement (TISA), currently being negotiated among 50 countries, if passed would prohibit regulations on the financial industry, eliminate laws to safeguard online or digital privacy, render illegal any “buy local” rules at any level of government, effectively dismantle any public advantages to be derived from state-owned enterprises and eliminate net neutrality.

TISA negotiations began in April 2013 and have gone through 21 rounds. Silence has been the rule for these talks, and we only know what’s in it because of leaks, earlier ones published by WikiLeaks and now a new cache published by Bilaterals.org.

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Trump Withdraws From Trans-Pacific Partnership Amid Flurry of Orders

David Smith reports for The Guardian:

Image result for trump tppDonald Trump has begun his effort to dismantle Barack Obama’s legacy, formally scrapping a flagship trade deal with 11 countries in the Pacific rim.

The new president also signed executive orders to ban funding for international groups that provide abortions, and placing a hiring freeze on non-military federal workers.

Trump’s decision not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) came as little surprise. During his election campaign he railed against international trade deals, blaming them for job losses and focusing anger in the industrial heartland. Obama had argued that this deal would provide an effective counterweight to China in the region.

“Everyone knows what that means, right?” Trump said at Monday’s signing ceremony in the White House. “We’ve been talking about this for a long time. It’s a great thing for the American worker.”

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We Never Voted for Corporate Rule

David Korten writes for YES! Magazine:

Corporate-Rule-Korten.gifLast week, Bayer, a transnational drug and pesticide company, secured funding for its $66 billion offer to acquire Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of agricultural seeds. This follows the announced $130 billion merger of chemical giants Dow and DuPont, and ChemChina’s proposed $43 billion purchase of the seed and pesticide firm Syngenta.

Bayer, DuPont, Dow, Monsanto, and Syngenta are five of the world’s six biggest pesticide and seed corporations. There are claims, which I find credible, that the “Big 6” and their products bear major responsibility for pesticide-resistant weeds and insects, and are implicated in impoverishment of small farmers, collapse of honeybee colonies, water pollution, and loss of biodiversity and soil fertility—all serious attacks on the common good. And similar consolidation continues in most every sector of the economy.

As individual corporations grow in size, global reach, and political power, we see a corresponding shift in the primary function of national governments—from serving the interests of their citizens to assuring the security of corporate property and profits. They apply police and military powers to this end, subsidize corporate operations, and facilitate corporate tax evasion. They let corporations off the hook with slap-on-the-wrist fines for criminal actions. Rarely, if ever, do they punish top executives.

We the People never voted to yield our sovereignty to transnational corporations. Nor was the corporate takeover a response to public need.

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TiSA Agreement Leaks Show Corporations Pushing Privatization of Public Services

Sharmini Peries speaks to Deborah James, Director of International Programs at CEPR, who discusses TiSA. (The Real News)

TTIP May Be Dead, But Something Even Worse Is Coming

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian:

Is it over? Can it be true? If so, it’s a victory for a campaign that once looked hopeless, pitched against a fortress of political, corporate and bureaucratic power.

TTIP – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – appears to be dead. The German economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, says that “the talks with the United States have de facto failed”. The French prime minister, Manuel Valls, has announced “a clear halt”. Belgian and Austrian ministers have said the same thing. People power wins. For now.

But the lobbyists who demanded this charter for corporate rights never give up. TTIP has been booed off the stage but another treaty, whose probable impacts are almost identical, is waiting in the wings. And this one is more advanced, wanting only final approval. If this happens before Britain leaves the EU, we are likely to be stuck with it for 20 years.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta) is ostensibly a deal between the EU and Canada. You might ask what harm Canada could do us. But it allows any corporation that operates there, wherever its headquarters might be, to sue governments before an international tribunal. It threatens to tear down laws protecting us from exploitation and prevent parliaments on both sides of the Atlantic from legislating.

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Ending of TTIP Talks May Be Tactical But Should They Be Celebrated? Interview with Nick Dearden

Sharmini Peries speaks to Global Justice Now Director Nick Dearden who warns that if the left does not develop an alternative to failed trade agreements, the European far right or Trump-style economic nationalism will take their place. (The Real News)

TTIP: German Economy Minister Says EU-US Trade Talks Have Failed

Frank Jordans reports for AP:

Germany Europe US TradeFree trade talks between the European Union and the United States have failed, Germany’s economy minister said Sunday, citing a lack of progress on any of the major sections of the long-running negotiations.

Both Washington and Brussels have pushed for a deal by the end of the year, despite strong misgivings among some EU member states over the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.

Sigmar Gabriel, who is also Germany’s vice chancellor, compared the TTIP negotiations unfavorably with a free trade deal forged between the 28-nation EU and Canada, which he said was fairer for both sides.

“In my opinion, the negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it,” Gabriel said during a question-and-answer session with citizens in Berlin.

He noted that in 14 rounds of talks, the two sides haven’t agreed on a single common item out of 27 chapters being discussed.

 

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Why Did Hillary Clinton Tap a Pro-TPP, Pro-KXL, Pro-Fracking Politician to Head Her Transition Team?

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times, about Hillary Clinton announcing former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of her transition team. (Democracy Now!)

Hillary Clinton Picks TPP and Fracking Advocate To Set Up Her White House

Zaid Jilani and Naomi LaChance report for The Intercept:

Two big issues dogged Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and fracking. She had a long history of supporting both.

Under fire from Bernie Sanders, she came out against the TPP and took a more critical position on fracking. But critics wondered if this was a sincere conversion or simply campaign rhetoric.

Now, in two of the most significant personnel moves she will ever make, she has signaled a lack of sincerity.

She chose as her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine, who voted to authorize fast-track powers for the TPP and praised the agreement just two days before he was chosen.

And now she has named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be the chair of her presidential transition team — the group tasked with helping set up the new administration should she win in November. That includes identifying, selecting, and vetting candidates for over 4,000 presidential appointments.

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Matt Taibbi on Libor and How the Failure to Fix Wall Street Propelled Trump’s Rise

Amy Goodman speaks to Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi about Barclays Bank agreeing to pay $100 million in a settlement with 44 U.S. states for rigging Libor, as well as Donald Trump’s speech at the Detroit Economic Club where he announced his economic plan and team, which includes Henry Paulson. Taibbi also goes over Trump’s stating that he would reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiate trade deals including NAFTA. (Democracy Now!)

Will Hillary Clinton Flip-Flop Again on TPP? Interview with Joseph Stiglitz

Amy Goodman speaks to Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist, Columbia University professor and chief economist for the Roosevelt Institute. Stiglitz is an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s policy team and talks about whether or not she would support the Trans-Pacific Partnership if she was elected U.S. President. (Democracy Now!)

Jeremy Corbyn promises to kill TTIP, will work in parliament to stop trade deal

Andrew Griffin reports for The Independent:

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to kill the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), doing further damage to the controversial deal.

Mr Corbyn has pledged to scrap the EU’s trade deal with the US. He joins a range of European politicians and campaigners in fighting against the partnership, which attempts to harmonise regulation between the two regions but also appears to weaken consumer protections and privilege companies.

The Labour leader has promised to stop the adoption of the deal if he is elected prime minister before it is completed. And he will also attempt to lead a rebellion in parliament, alongside dissident Tories and the Scottish nationalists.

Supporters of the deal argue that it is a necessary way of bringing US and EU regulations into line to allow companies to trade more easily. But while talks on the deal have remained secret, campaigners have argued that the deal will pose a huge threat to the NHS, privacy, the environment and other issues.

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Brexit: Out of the Frying Pan, into the Fire

Thomas G. Clark writes for Another Angry Voice:

After “Project Fear” proved such a success in the Scotish independence referendum it was always going to be the case that both sides of the EU referendum debate were going to try to use emotional fear and anger based arguments to herd people over to their side of the debate; the extremely short time frame (holding the referendum less than two months after the local/mayoral/assembly elections) meant that there wasn’t ever going to be enough time for a proper fact-based debate; and the fact that there are Tories on both sides of the argument meant that both camps were always going to end up slining a load of insults and lies around.

An awful lot of people are extremely disappointed with the dishonesty and fearmongering rhetoric from both sides, and desperate for a reasonably unbiased appraisal of the EU debate. I can’t promise to offer a completely unbiased analysis because the only way to remain completely neutral about such a serious subject is to remain entirely apathetic, which I’m not. However I will try to explain my position without resorting to the kind of fearmongering rhetoric, ridiculous hyperbole or ludicrous fantasy land promises that have plagued the referendum debate so far.

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Better Regulation: Corporate-Friendly Deregulation in Disguise

Corporate Observatory Europe reports:

A deregulation agenda is sweeping through the European Commission and member states, particularly pushed by the United Kingdom. If you care about the environment, workers’ rights, or health and well-being you should be concerned about this agenda, because it is abolishing and weakening current rules and preventing new ones from being introduced. In EU circles it’s called ‘Better Regulation’, but in fact it’s rule-making at its worst, putting the interests of big business centre-stage, where those with the most lobby power have the biggest say. It featured in David Cameron’s negotiations with the EU in the context of the Brexit referendum, and with the prospect of TTIP, rules to protect the public interest will come under even further assault.

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EU and US Trade Sharp Words on TTIP

Ryan Heath reports for Politico:

Tensions between the EU and U.S. over the lack of progress in talks on a transatlantic trade deal boiled over last week as both sides aired frustrations in sharply worded emails obtained by POLITICO.

The European Commission warned in an email sent Friday to the 28 EU ambassadors in Brussels that unless the U.S. changes its approach to negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), there’ll be no deal before President Barack Obama leaves office in January 2017.

In its email to EU permanent representatives, the Commission strongly criticized U.S. Ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner for sending what it called a “somewhat unusual” message to his European counterparts earlier last week.

Gardner wrote to the 28 EU ambassadors on May 25, criticizing European Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan for making a “a series of misleading statements in the press,” while providing a detailed list of the statements.

The behind-the-scenes war of words is the latest sign of the increasingly fraught politics behind the TTIP talks, with each side digging on key policy areas and hinting that the other is not negotiating in good faith.

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CETA: Why Is Britain Pushing for an EU Trade Deal Before Parliament Can Vote On It?

Oscar Rickett reports for VICE News:

In an EU referendum campaign that has rarely been anything other than banal or absurd, the issue of British sovereignty has been the overriding theme. The Brexit campaign is founded on the idea that the European Union is a shady, labyrinthine organisation that would see every free-born Englishman bound by the chains of Brussels bureaucracy. David Cameron reckons this is bullshit, saying the idea of Britain having any more real power outside of the EU is an illusion. We wouldn’t have the power to stop British businesses being discriminated against, or to make EU countries share border information with us, for instance. Sometimes power can be a bit more complicated than making your own laws in a world where there are other countries also making laws that might affect you.

But how much does Cameron actually care about sovereignty? Leaked documents shown to VICE by Global Justice Now suggest not as much as he’d like you to think.

On the 13th of May, the EU Foreign Affairs / Trade-Council met in Brussels to discuss, among other things, the implementation of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). CETA is the cousin of the more famous TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), a free trade deal between the US and the EU. CETA is a deal with Canada that many critics believe is a corporate power grab designed to strip away the regulations that protect us from badly made or dangerous products.

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CETA: Think TTIP is a Threat to Democracy? There’s Another Trade Deal That’s Already Signed

Nick Dearden writes for The Guardian:

As the great powers gathered in Japan for last week’s G7 summit, a series of massive trade deals were under attack from all sides. And yet, fromDonald Trump to Jeremy Corbyn, there is a recognition that “trade” has become little more than a synonym for big business to take ever more control of society.

The US-Europe deal TTIP (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is the best known of these so-called “new generation” trade deals and has inspired a movement. More than 3 million Europeans have signed Europe’s biggest petition to oppose TTIP, while 250,000 Germans took to the streets of Berlin last autumn to try to bring this deal down. A new opinion poll shows only 18% of Americans and 17% of Germans support TTIP, down from 53% and 55% just two years ago.

But TTIP is not alone. Its smaller sister deal between the EU and Canada is called Ceta (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement). Ceta is just as dangerous as TTIP; indeed it’s in the vanguard of TTIP-style deals, because it’s already been signed by the European commission and the Canadian government. It now awaits ratification over the next 12 months.

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Buoyed by U.S. Firms, Vietnam Emerges as an Asian Manufacturing Powerhouse

David Nakamura reports for The Washington Post:

In a campaign season that has renewed public anxiety about U.S. job losses to China, one Michigan shoe company stands as a stark example of how the economic dynamics are changing quickly in Asia.

Wolverine Worldwide exemplifies a sharp shift among American footwear and garment producers away from China toward an emerging manufacturing hot spot: Vietnam.

Over the past three years, the Rockford, Mich.-based maker of brands such as Keds, Hush Puppies and Saucony has more than doubled its production in the Southeast Asian nation, taking advantage of the lower labor costs there. Vietnam now constitutes nearly 30 percent of Wolverine’s output, while China’s share has fallen from 90 percent to 50 percent, company officials said.

Many other U.S. firms have made a similar move, brightening the economic fortunes of Vietnam, where President Obama will arrive Monday for a two-day visit to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. If Obama has his way, the communist country will become even more appealing to U.S. capitalists through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an expansive 12-nation trade deal that would phase out steep import tariffs on Vietnamese-made goods.

Obama has touted the pact as a vehicle to help embed the United States in fast-emerging markets in Southeast Asia and exploit global economic trends to America’s benefit. China, attempting its own economic transformation toward the service sector, is pursuing a separate trade pact that includes Vietnam and other Southeast Asian nations.

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UK Should Consider Brexit If EU Signs TTIP, Suggests Joseph Stiglitz

Ned Simons reports for The Huffington Post:

JOSEPH STIGLITZBritain could be better off outside the European Union if the proposed free trade deal with the United States is signed, a senior Labour economic adviser has suggested.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist recruited by shadow chancellor John McDonnell to advise the party, said if the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) EU-US deal is similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal between the US and pacific countries then “no democracy” should support it.

Stiglitz supports UK’s membership of the EU as is, however asked by The Huffington Post UK on Wednesday whether the passing of TTIP would change his mind, he said: “I actually think that the strictures imposed by TTIP, if it were like TPP, would be sufficiently adverse to the functioning of government it would probably affect my views.

“It would make me think certainly over again about whether membership of the EU was a good idea.”

Stiglitz warned it would mean almost every time the UK passed a regulation to limit the health impact of toxins such as asbestos or to tackle climate change “you would be sued” by corporations.

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Obama: TPP Would Let America, Not China, Lead the Way on Global Trade

Barack Obama writes for The Washington Post:

Over the past six years, America’s businesses have created more than 14 million new jobs. To keep this progress going, we need to pursue every avenue of economic growth. Today, some of our greatest economic opportunities abroad are in the Asia-Pacific region, which is on its way to becoming the most populous and lucrative market on the planet. Increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China.

Of course, China’s greatest economic opportunities also lie in its own neighborhood, which is why China is not wasting any time. As we speak, China is negotiating a trade deal that would carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses and goods at risk.

This past week, China and 15 other nations met in Australia with a goal of getting their deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, done before the end of this year. That trade deal won’t prevent unfair competition among government-subsidized, state-owned enterprises. It won’t protect a free and open Internet. Nor will it respect intellectual property rights in a way that ensures America’s creators, artists, filmmakers and entrepreneurs get their due. And it certainly won’t enforce high standards for our workers and our environment.

Fortunately, America has a plan of our own that meets each of these goals. As a Pacific power, the United States has pushed to develop a high-standard Trans- Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that puts American workers first and makes sure we write the rules of the road for trade in the 21st century.

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Greenpeace Leaks Secret Pro-Corporate TTIP Documents: Interview with Jorgo Riss

Sharmini Peries talks to Jorgo Riss of Greenpeace who says leaked TTIP documents shows a huge transfer of power from people to big business and negotiator’s consulting with the corporate sector. (The Real News)

Protest Never Changes Anything? Look at How TTIP Has Been Derailed

Owen Jones writes for The Guardian:

For those of us who want societies run in the interests of the majority rather than unaccountable corporate interests, this era can be best defined as an uphill struggle. So when victories occur, they should be loudly trumpeted to encourage us in a wider fight against a powerful elite of big businesses, media organisations, politicians, bureaucrats and corporate-funded thinktanks.

Today is one such moment. The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP) – that notorious proposed trade agreement that hands even more sweeping powers to corporate titans – lies wounded, perhaps fatally. It isn’t dead yet, but TTIP is a tangled wreckage that will be difficult to reassemble.

Those of us who campaigned against TTIP – not least fellow Guardian columnist George Monbiot – were dismissed as scaremongering. We said that TTIP would lead to a race to the bottom on everything from environmental to consumer protections, forcing us down to the lower level that exists in the United States. We warned that it would undermine our democracy and sovereignty, enabling corporate interests to use secret courts to block policies that they did not like.

Scaremongering, we were told. But hundreds of leaked documents from the negotiations reveal, in some ways, that the reality is worse – and now the French government has been forced to suggest it may block the agreement.

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TTIP Has Been Kicked into the Long Grass… for a Very Long Time

Larry Elliott writes for The Guardian:

As talks to broker a global trade deal entered a second tortuous decade, the US and the European Union came up with an idea. Since it was proving impossible to find agreement among the 150 or so members of the World Trade Organisation about how to tear down barriers to freer commerce, they would strike their own agreement.

Talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) began in the summer of 2013 with officials in Washington and Brussels confident they could iron out any difficulties by the time American voters decide on who should succeed Barack Obama as president in November this year.

This always looked a ridiculously tight timetable and so it has proved. Cutting trade deals is an agonisingly slow process. The last successful global deal – the Uruguay Round – took seven years before being concluding in 1993. Talks continued on the Doha Round from 2001 until 2015 before terminal boredom and frustration set in. Was it really feasible that TTIP could be pushed through in little more than three years? Not a chance.

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Leaked TTIP Documents Cast Doubt on EU-US Trade Deal

Arthur Neslen reports for The Guardian:

Talks for a free trade deal between Europe and the US face a serious impasse with “irreconcilable” differences in some areas, according to leaked negotiating texts.

The two sides are also at odds over US demands that would require the EU to break promises it has made on environmental protection.

President Obama said last week he was confident a deal could be reached. But the leaked negotiating drafts and internal positions, which were obtained by Greenpeace and seen by the Guardian, paint a very different picture.

“Discussions on cosmetics remain very difficult and the scope of common objectives fairly limited,” says one internal note by EU trade negotiators. Because of a European ban on animal testing, “the EU and US approaches remain irreconcilable and EU market access problems will therefore remain,” the note says.

Talks on engineering were also “characterised by continuous reluctance on the part of the US to engage in this sector,” the confidential briefing says.

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The Post-Brexit Fantasy Land

Thomas G. Clark writes for Another Angry Voice:

Both sides of the EU debate have put forward some completely inept and downright misleading arguments in favour of their positions, but the appalling opportunism and incoherence of the Brexit camp is really beginning to get on my nerves. It doesn’t matter what the news story these days, there’s always a pack of Brexiters ready to pounce on it and reshape it into an anti-EU diatribe, using all manner of tortured logic, fantastical thinking and downright misleading rhetoric in the process.

The purpose of this article is not to persuade you to vote one way or another, I actually believe there are good arguments to be found in favour of both sides of the debate if you’re prepared to actually look for them.

The purpose is to show the shameless political opportunism and logical incoherence that elements of the Brexit camp are ever willing to present in order to dupe gullible people into supporting their cause.

Once you’ve read this article you’ll be able to keep an eye out for people jumping into political debates about serious issues with the sole objective of piggybacking their personal political agenda onto the debate by any means possible (including the complete abandonment of logic, reason and basic common sense).

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Panama Papers: Obama, Clinton Pushed Trade Deal Amid Warnings It Would Make Money Laundering, Tax Evasion Worse

Clark Mindock and David Sirota report for the International Business Times:

RTR3AZOHYears before more than a hundred media outlets around the world released stories Sunday exposing a massive network of global tax evasion detailed in the so-called Panama Papers, U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed for a Bush administration-negotiated free trade agreement that watchdogs warned would only make the situation worse.

Soon after taking office in 2009, Obama and his secretary of state — who is currently the Democratic presidential front-runner — began pushing for the passage of stalled free trade agreements (FTAs) with Panama, Colombia and South Korea that opponents said would make it more difficult to crack down on Panama’s very low income tax rate, banking secrecy laws and history of noncooperation with foreign partners.

Even while Obama championed his commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy, he pursued and eventually signed the Panama agreement in 2011. Upon Congress ratifying the pact, Clinton issued a statement lauding the agreement, saying it and other deals with Colombia and South Korea “will make it easier for American companies to sell their products.” She added: “The Obama administration is constantly working to deepen our economic engagement throughout the world, and these agreements are an example of that commitment.”

Critics, however, said the pact would make it easier for rich Americans and corporations to set up offshore corporations and bank accounts and avoid paying many taxes altogether.

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ISDS: New Analysis Shows ‘Frivolous’ Corporate Sovereignty Suits Increasingly Used To Deter Regulation Rather Than Win Compensation

Glyn Moody reports for Techdirt:

The rise in public awareness of the dangers of corporate sovereignty provisions in agreements like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP has brought with it a collateral benefit: academics are starting to explore its effects in greater depth. An example is a new paper from Krzysztof J. Pelc, who is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McGill University in Canada. Called “Does the Investment Regime Induce Frivolous Litigation?” (pdf), it looks at how the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism has evolved in recent years, and in a very troubling direction.

Along the way, the paper explores one of the central arguments made by those supporting the inclusion of corporate sovereignty chapters in major agreements: investors lose most of the claims that they bring against governments, so ISDS is really nothing to worry about. But Pelc identifies a key question posed by this line of thinking:

Why would investors continue to file these highly costly cases, if the expected success rate is so low?

In fact, things turn out to be even more mysterious:

Current estimates actually overstate investors’ success rates, especially when it comes to specific types of legal claims. What is more, this rate of success has been dropping precipitously over time — the exact opposite trend to the one we observe in inter-state disputes in the trade regime over the same period.

By analyzing 1421 individual claims in 676 investment disputes from 1993 to present day, Pelc discovered that most disputes are over what are claimed to be instances of indirect expropriation by governments. That’s in contrast to the traditional direct kind, for example when dictators send their armed thugs to throw foreign investors out of a factory they own — something that almost never happens these days. Indirect expropriation is claimed by companies to include things like enforcing higher standards for drug patents, or simply trying to protect key water supplies from pollution.

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TTIP: EU and US vow to speed up talks, hoping to secure trade deal before Obama leaves office

Jennifer Rankin reports for The Guardian:

Senior European and US officials have vowed to accelerate talks on a controversial trade deal that critics say would weaken environmental and consumer standards, while giving too much power to companies to sue governments.

Negotiators from the EU and the United States confirmed they were hoping to secure agreement on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership by the end of the year. TTIP, which the EU trade commissioner once described as “the most contested acronym in Europe”, is a sweeping plan to harmonise regulatory standards, cut tariffs on thousands of items and help companies do more transatlantic business.

Talks began in July 2013, but rapidly became bogged down amid widespread public protest, with disputes breaking out over issues ranging from the French film industry to feta cheese.

Now the two sides are racing to strike a deal before Barack Obama leaves presidential office in January 2017.

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How The European Commission Is Doing The Job Of Big Business

Corporate Observatory Europe reports:

The European Commission is currently negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States. This trade deal threatens to reduce the social and environmental rights of people living in the US and the EU, in the interests of big business. A central aspect of this threat comes from plans to introduce “regulatory cooperation” between the negotiating partners.

Equally dangerous is the European Commission’s so-called “Better Regulation” agenda, which is an internal process that pre-dates the EU-US trade talks. “Better Regulation” is promoted as being about cutting unnecessary administrative burdens or red tape at the EU level. In reality it threatens essential environmental safeguards and citizens’ rights.

Both processes are creating obstacles and delays for decision-makers who want to introduce new regulations, and they risk creating “regulatory chill” as law makers are discouraged from introducing new measures in the public interest.

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David Cameron’s Smoke and Mirrors EU “Renegotiation”

Thomas G. Clark writes for Another Angry Voice:

[…] David Cameron’s so-called “renegotiation” is an absolute shambles. Some of the stuff he is negotiating for is simply a smokescreen, other things he’s negotiating for will create economic apartheid in the UK and likely cause tit-for-tat retribution against British migrant workers elsewhere in the EU.
The fiction that David Cameron is protecting British sovereignty is catastrophically undermined by the fervent Tory support for the TTIP corporate power grab. How is it even remotely possible to claim to be putting British sovereignty “beyond doubt” whilst simultaneously supporting a plan designed to completely over-write British sovereignty with legislation to elevate multinational corporations above the constraints of our parliamentary and judicial institutions?
The purpose of David Cameron’s so-called “renegotiation” seems to be the realpolitik of trying to appease Tory backbenchers and the right-wing press, rather than addressing any serious structural problems within the EU, or within the UK economy either for that matter.

Nobody on either side of the In-Out debate should be taken in by David Cameron’s pathetic posturing, but unfortunately many will be if the pro-Tory press begin trumpeting Cameron’s “renegotiation” as a wonderful success, when the slightest critical analysis reveals it to be the usual Tory smoke and mirrors game.

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