A document from President Barack Obama’s free trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations has been leaked exposing his intentions to hand radical new political powers to multinational corporations.
The leaked document has been posted on the website of Public Citizen. The leaked information follows complaints from members of Congress that they are not being given the same access to trade documents that corporate officials are.
“The outrageous stuff in this leaked text may well be why U.S. trade officials have been so extremely secretive about these past two years of [trade] negotiations,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced legislation requiring further disclosure while House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has posted a separate document from the talks on his website. Other Senators are considering writing a letter to Ron Kirk, the top trade negotiator under Obama, demanding more disclosure.
The newly leaked document addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.
Under the agreement the Obama administration would allow foreign corporations operating within the U.S. to appeal key legal or regulatory rulings on the environment, banking and other issues to an international tribunal. That 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.
Yet again the president is breaking a promise he made 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.
“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.”
In a statement provided to HuffPost, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative downplayed the concerns.
“This administration is committed to ensuring strong environmental, public health and safety laws,” said USTR spokesperson Nkenge Harmon. “Nothing in our TPP investment proposal could impair our government’s ability to pursue legitimate, non-discriminatory public interest regulation, including measures to protect public health, public safety and the environment.”
Trans-Pacific negotiations have been taking place throughout the Obama presidency. The deal is strongly supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the top lobbying group for American corporations. Obama’s Republican opponent in the 2012 presidential elections, Mitt Romney, has urged the U.S. to finalize the deal as soon as possible.
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