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House Pushing Back on Trade Deal; More Detail on How Secret Arbitration Panels Undermine Laws and Regulations

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Wow, this is amazing. Word has apparently gotten out even to Congressmen who can normally be lulled to sleep with the invocation of the magic phrase “free trade” that the pending Trans Pacific Partnership is toxic. This proposed deal among 13 Pacific Rim countries (essentially, an “everybody but China” pact), is only peripherally about trade, since trade is already substantially liberalized. Its main aim is to strengthen the rights of intellectual property holders and investors, undermining US sovereignity, allowing drug companies to raise drug prices, interfering with basic operation of the Internet, and gutting labor, banking, and environmental regulations.

The update from the New York Times:

The Obama administration is rushing to reach a new deal intended to lower barriers to trade with a dozen Pacific Rim nations, including Japan and Canada, before the end of the year.

But the White House is now facing new hurdles closer to home, with nearly half of the members of the House signing letters or otherwise signaling their opposition to granting so-called fast-track authority that would make any agreement immune to a Senate filibuster and not subject to amendment. No major trade pact has been approved by Congress in recent decades without such authority.

Two new House letters with about 170 signatories in total — the latest and strongest iteration of long-simmering opposition to fast-track authority and to the trade deal more broadly — have been disclosed just a week before international negotiators are to meet in Salt Lake City for another round of talks…

Many members have had a longstanding opposition to certain elements of the deal, arguing it might hurt American workers and disadvantage some American businesses. Those concerns are diverse, including worries about food safety, intellectual property, privacy and the health of the domestic auto industry.

Others say that they are upset that the Obama administration has, in their view, kept Congress in the dark about the negotiations, by not allowing congressional aides to observe the negotiations and declining to make certain full texts available.

This development is more significant than it might appear. “Fast track” authority limits Congress’s role in trade negotiations. The Administration presents a finished deal, and individual members have only an up or down vote. At that point, because the pending agreements have been misleadingly presented as “pro trade,” dissenters will be depicted as anti-growth Luddites.

But the loss of fast track authority would substantially undermine America’s ability to bully the other parties in the negotiations. Our Japanese-reading regular Clive parsed an article in the Asahi Shimbun as saying that the Japanese were positioning themselves to resist the US onslaught:

The pretty clear subtext of this Japanese newspaper feature is, this is supposed to be an agreement – a negotiation. If a negotiation stalls, it’s because of intransigence on behalf of one or more parties. Let’s count [in the graphic accompanying the article] the flags of the countries who have gone along with things in the TPP proposal… Look-ee there, there’s two Japanese flags. Let’s count the flags of the countries who are opposing things… that’s two – yes, dear Asahi Shinbun readers, T-W-O please note – star spangled banners. So don’t blame us (Japan). It doesn’t actually come right out and hit readers on the head with that editorial, but, in classic Japanese passive aggressive fashion, it is, by the standards of Japanese journalism, sticking a chop stick up Uncle Sam’s behind.

Shortform: Japan to the US “If this is supposed to be a negotiation, be prepared to come and negotiate. You’ll put stuff in the TPP we don’t like. If you expect Asia to swallow it, you’d better be prepared to have to accept things you’re not too keen on. If you don’t, then it’ll be a case of Yankee Go Home from some countries. PS. If it all ends in tears, Japan is completely blameless, it’s all those other countries at fault.”

So the TPP was already in danger of going pear-shaped, independent of well-warranted Congressional opposition.

Let’s give more detail on how heinous this deal and its ugly sister, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, aka the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, are. They would extend the authority of secret arbitration panels to hear cases against governments and issue awards. Mind you, the premise of these panels is that some of the signatory nations have banana republic legal systems that might authorize the expropriation of assets, like factories, so foreign investors need recourse to safe venues to obtain compensation. This is a ludicrous proposition to most of the signatories, not only to signatories of the Atlantic agreement (all advanced economies with mature legal systems) as well as potential signatories like Singapore, Japan, Canada, and Australia (and while America’s judicial system leaves a lot to be desired, it can hardly be accused of being unfriendly to commercial interests).

A post in Triple Crisis by Martin Khor gives a good overview:

In the public debate surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), an issue that seems to stand out is the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system. It would enable foreign investors of TPPA countries to directly sue the host government in an international tribunal.

In most US free trade agreements (FTAs) with investor-state dispute provisions, the tribunal most mentioned is the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an arbitration court hosted by the World Bank in Washington.

ISDS would be a powerful system for enforcing the rules of the TPPA, which is currently being negotiated by the US and 11 other Pacific Rim countries. Any foreign investor from TPPA countries can take up a case claiming that the government has not met its relevant TPPA obligations.

if the claim succeeds, the tribunal could award the investor financial compensation for the claimed losses. If the payment is not made, the award can potentially be enforced through the seizure of assets of the government that has been sued, or through tariffs raised on the country’s exports.

ISDS is related to relevant parts of the TPPA’s investment chapter. One of the provisions is a broad definition of “investment” which includes credit, contracts, intellectual property rights (IPRs), and expectations of future gains and profits. Investors can make claims on losses to these assets.

Under the “national treatment” provision, a foreign investor can claim to be discriminated against if the local is given preference or other advantage.

Under the clause on fair and equitable treatment, which is contained in many existing trade and investment treaties, investors have sued on the ground of non-renewal or change in the terms of a licence or contract and changes in policies or regulations that the investor claims will reduce its future profits.

Finally, investors can sue on the ground of “indirect expropriation”. Tribunals have ruled in favour of investors that claimed losses due to government policies or regulations, such as tighter health and environmental regulations.

Even though no one has seen the exact language of the text, since it is being kept under wraps, both deals are believed to strengthen and extend investor rights, which means give them easier access to the courts. Consider this description from a July presentation by Public Citizen:

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. Annulment for limited errors.

And that’s alarming in light of some of the cases already brought before these panels in existing trade agreements like NAFTA. For instance:

Eli Lilly is suing the Canadian government for not having the same extremely pro-drug-company patent rules. It is seeking $500 million in damages for two drugs that Canada approve to be sold as generics. If Eli Lilly prevails, other drug companies are sure to follow suit.

Vattenfal, a Swedish company, is a serial trade pact litigant against Germany. In 2011, Der Spiegel reported on how it was suing for expected €1 billion plus losses due to Germany’s program to phase out nuclear power:

According to Handelsblatt, Vattenfall has an advantage in seeking compensation because the company has its headquarters abroad. As a Swedish company, Vattenfall can invoke investment rules under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT), which protect foreign investors in signatory nations from interference in property rights. That includes, according to the treaty’s text, a “fair and equitable treatment” of investors.

The Swedish company has already filed suit once against the German government at the ICSID. In 2009, Vattenfall sued the federal government over stricter environmental regulations on its coal-fired power plant in Hamburg-Moorburg, seeking €1.4 billion plus interest in damages. The parties settled out of court in August 2010.

Phillip Morris threatened suit against Australia for its plain cigarette packing rules and is suing Uraguay for anti-smoking regulations

Now consider what this means. These companies are not suing for actual expenses or loss of assets; they are suing for loss of potential future profits. They are basically acting as if their profit in a particular market was guaranteed absent government action. And no one else enjoys these rights. Consider highly paid workers in nuclear plants. Will they get payments commensurate with the premium they’ve lost over the balance of their working lives from the phaseout of nuclear power? Will cigarette vendors in Australia get compensated for the decline in their sales? Commerce involves risk, which means exposure to loss, yet foreign investors want, and seem able to get, “heads I win, tails you lose” deals via these trade agreements.

And it’s even worse than you imagine once you understand how these panels work. Recall how Public Citizen mentioned the role of the panelists who go between working for the companies and serving on the panels? A small and tight-knit group has disproportionate influence (click to enlarge):

Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 6.23.31 AM

Consider the implications of the fact that the 15, and the larger community of panel “regulars,” work both sides of the street. They draw cases that go before the trade panel, as well as hear them. Thus it’s in their interest to issue aggressive rulings in order to facilitate more cases being filed.

Not surprisingly, this self-reinforcing system is, as expected, producing more claims even before its gets its hoped-for turbo-charging through the pending trade deals:

Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 6.27.38 AM

Now while the House pushback is promising, this isn’t over until the fat lady sings. Obama has been really keen to get these deals done. Of the roughly 170 Representatives upset enough to sign letters, roughly 150 are Democrats (the Times says an additional 40 to 50 have signaled concerns). With the opposition overwhelmingly in the Democratic party, the Administration is much better positioned to get the votes than if more Republicans were opposed.

So this is the time when it is REALLY important to call or e-mail your Representative and let him or her know how terrible this deal is and how firmly opposed to it you are. Use the link to the Public Citizen overview (http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/GlobalTradeWatch_TAFTAslides_070913.pdf) or cite other posts or articles you think they should see. Trade is normally not a hot topic for voters, so five or ten calls in a district would be a serious show of opposition. This is a case where you can have an impact. I hope you’ll act and rally any sympathetic friends and family members to take a few minutes and make your voice heard.

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60 comments

  1. Pokey

    Write letters to the editor of your paper. Nothing works better than a public renunciation coupled with a threat. The word “impeachment” belongs in the letter. Make it too hot to handle.

  2. Banger

    I think the TPP is going to look a lot like the scenario when everyone in the media, every hustler in Washington was clamoring for war in Syria and they fell flat on their faces. I don’t think Congress will bite on this one. There is solid opposition that has been building for a long time both on the right and the left. I think it is going nowhere–or maybe I’m just hoping. If the TPP fails this will be a very good sign that politics in the U.S. at least is seriously changing.

  3. voteforno6

    I’m not so sure that the concerns of members of the House are really that relevant here…treaties have to be ratified by two thirds of the Senate, with no input from the House. People would be better served flooding their Senators with phone calls and emails.

    1. Ex-PFC Chuck

      I’m not totally sure about this but I believe that fast track status requires a resolution passed by both houses of Congress. If so, denying said status is the most effective way of at least eviscerating the worst provisions of whatever is finally negotiated, if not killing it entirely. As Yves pointed out denial of FTS will considerably will considerably restrain Obama’s ability to push thru what his owners demand of him.

      1. Vatch

        According to Wikipedia, you are correct that the House must approved the fast track status:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_track_(trade)

        “If the President transmits a fast track trade agreement to Congress, then the majority leaders of the House and Senate or their designees must introduce the implementing bill submitted by the President on the first day on which their House is in session. (19 U.S.C. § 2191( c )(1).)”

    2. savedbyirony

      The point is to not allow the TPP fast track treatment (meaning simply allowing for a yes/no vote with absolutley no debate), and the House can prevent that. It would be completely foolish to sit around and assume the Senate would not come out with a “yes” vote if 1.) there was no public outcry against the TPP beforehand and 2.)they were allowed the excuse of “all we could do was vote up or down, and there was enough “good” in it -so we were told, because we were never really able to actually see what we were voting on in the first place- to warrent an “yes” vote.

    3. different clue

      Best to flood both groups of people to be sure of hitting the right group. And why not flood editors with letters as well?

      1. kimsarah

        Good idea to flood editors with letters on this. Where I’m at, the teabaggers flood the editors with letters, most of which get published with very few counterpoints.

    4. Larry Barber

      Trade agreements have traditionally been implemented legislatively, both the House and the Senate have to pass the enabling legislation, there is no “treaty” in the Constitutional sense, so House approval is required, but only a simple majority in the Senate is required to pass it.

  4. Susan Pizzo

    Apparently, since these are trade ‘deals’ and not treaties, both the House and the Senate must weigh in. Could be good news (for those of us opposed to the scope of the proposals) in an election year…

  5. bryanw

    Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP)
    “Today, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter.”

    https://wikileaks.org/tpp/

    1. Ned Ludd

      The Age, an Australian newspaper, posted an article about the release of this chapter. Patents will be “available for new uses of existing drugs, effectively allowing for the ‘ever-greening’ of existing patents.”

      The proposals also include compensation to companies for delays in the granting or extension of patents, and measures to ensure data exclusivity.

      This would enable companies to prevent competitors, specifically manufacturers of generic medicines, from using past clinical safety data to support approval of new products.

      The article reveals that the U.S. and Japan “oppose wording, supported by most of the other countries, that highlights the importance of ‘maintain[ing] a balance between the rights of intellectual property holders and the legitimate interests of users and the community’.” Liberals are such steadfast supporters of Obama (72% approve of the job he is doing, according to the latest Gallup poll), that he knows that he doesn’t need even empty rhetoric to maintain their support.

      “One could see the TPP as a Christmas wish-list for major corporations, and the copyright parts of the text support such a view.” – Dr. Matthew Rimmer, quoted in the article.

    2. Ned Ludd

      reddit just removed this from its front page – in fact, from all its pages – because it is “not [a] news article”. This happens repeatedly at reddit – you can vote on articles, but once one gets to the front page, a moderator will find a reason to remove it if it upsets the PTB.

      In 2011, Alexis Ohanian, a co-founder of reddit, offered to consult for Stratfor, which Michael Hastings called “a leading private intelligence firm which bills itself as a kind of shadow CIA”.

      A series of emails followed, in which Stratfor communications vice president Meredith Friendman wrote that Ohanian is “a huge Stratfor fan” and the two parties “met and talked about doing something with Reddit for social media.”

      Ohanian emailed Stratfor a propsoal, as well as offering a Skype consulting session for $1,000/hour.

      Three days after reporting this, RT was banned from reddit’s news section.

  6. Ed

    “I’m not so sure that the concerns of members of the House are really that relevant here…treaties have to be ratified by two thirds of the Senate, with no input from the House. People would be better served flooding their Senators with phone calls and emails.”

    This is one of those changes (in my lifetime) in how America is governed that really should be more noted than it is. There has been a change to the unwritten constitution on how treaties are ratified.

    The written Constitution provided for treaties negotiated by the federal executive to be approved by two thirds of the Senate. The reason for this is that states were thought much more as sovereign entities than they are today. So the states had to agree on any treaties too. To avoid the time consuming process submitting treaties directly to state governments, they were sent to the Senators, who were selected by the state legislators so Senate approval is kind of proxy for state approval.

    All of this is dead letter now. Because it is difficult to change the written constitution, the unwritten constitution was used to adapt a workaround. Essentially, once the executive negotiates a treaty, Congress simply passes the enabling legislation to implement the treaty (or agreement), skipping ths step of formal agreement to and ratification of a treaty. This reduces the number of Senators needed to agree by 16 (it also helps to remember that in the 1790s two thirds of the Senate was 20 Senators, not 67), and gets the House involved. No one thinks it important these days that the states or their proxies agree to anything the executive branch does.

    Without looking it up, I think the last major treaty approved the old way was the Panama Canal Treaty in 1978.

    The idea of completely excluding the federal legislature from the negotiations is a separate matter, and in fact the exact opposite of how things were supposed to work in the late eighteenth century. This history of congressional “oversight” of intelligence operations indicates that it wouldn’t make much difference if they were included, however.

  7. DakotabornKansan

    Troubling questions about the role of journalism in a functioning democracy at the New York Times…

    The New York Times’ editorial board endorsement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) November 5, 2013:

    “A good agreement would lower duties and trade barriers on most products and services, strengthen labor and environmental protections, limit the ability of governments to tilt the playing field in favor of state-owned firms and balance the interests of consumers and creators of intellectual property. Such a deal will not only help individual countries but set an example for global trade talks.”

    [It was likely no accident that readers' comments were not allowed.]

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/06/opinion/a-pacific-trade-deal.html?_r=0

    Maira Sutton, Electronic Frontier Foundation, writes that the Times endorsement of TPP, the actual text of which remains secret, “raises two distressing possibilities: either in an act of extraordinary subservience, the Times has endorsed an agreement that neither the public nor its editors have the ability to read. Or, in an act of extraordinary cowardice, it has obtained a copy of the secret text and hasn’t yet fulfilled its duty to the public interest to publish it.”

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/11/how-can-nytimes-endorse-agreement-public-cant-read

    House pushing back on TPP trade deal…

    It isn’t over until the hidden fist of the hidden hand of the market squeals.

    1. scraping_by

      Yes, I noticed the NYT is smoothing the language to give it support, or delegitimize opposition.

      “Others say that they are upset that the Obama administration has, in their view, kept Congress in the dark about the negotiations, by not allowing congressional aides to observe the negotiations and declining to make certain full texts available.”

      Other say the are upset – a large majority is opposed on philosophical, not emotional grounds. And you can find their names, apparently, not just vague ‘others’.

      the Obama administration has, in their view, – it’s their view because it’s objective fact, not a private, personal opinion.

      kept Congress in the dark about the negotiations – along with everyone else in the world; it’s not Congressthings squawking about their perks.

      by not allowing – by forbidding, and keeping out by force. Stonewalling is not that passive, it needs active denial.

      congressional aides to observe the negotiations – or journalists, or academics, or private citizens. Not just young junketeers.

      and declining – and refusing, with the backing of law enforcement.

      to make certain full texts available. – to make any information available outside anodyne public relations generalities.

      Not nearly as good as disappearing the story, but it’ll have to do. Dern hackers have let the out of the bag.

      1. Klassy!

        This was in a review of Alexander Cockburn’s last book A Colossal Wreck in the NYT today:
        “He considered the establishment media, including The New York Times, to be apologists for the status quo. Noting in 1996 that newspapers tend to adore free trade, he wrote: “The day that column-writing is subcontracted to high school students in Guatemala, I expect to see a turnaround on the trade issue among the opinion-forming classes.”

    2. kimsarah

      Along with other once-mighty pillars of relevant mainstream media outlets, the delusionary New York Times is only further sealing its fate of becoming a pile of clueless and irrelevant rubbish.

    1. zauche

      The release today was only of one chapter of the TPP — the chapter on intellectual property rights — but, as I understand it, there are more than 20 chapters, each one devoted to a different industry or area of commercial concern. For examples, there’s a chapter on Finance, so the big banks can avoid regulations within each signatory nation; thre’s another chapter on Energy, so the big oil & gas companies can avoid regulation within each signatory nation. The Australian publication via Wikileaks gives us an idea of how the TPP would work in one area, allowing us to get an idea how it will work in other areas.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Yes, there are 29 chapters, only five of which deal with trade. I also believe that chapter was leaked previously, although this may be a more current draft.

  8. John Yard

    “These companies are not suing for actual expenses or loss of assets; they are suing for loss of potential future profits. They are basically acting as if their profit in a particular market was guaranteed absent government action.”

    This is the new capitalism. Profits are taken; losses are crammed down unto the working and middle classes. And investors have a claim not only on future profits , but potential future profits, clearly an elastic concept. DOW 30000 !

    1. LucyLulu

      And the liabilities of ordinary citizens must be calculated and prepaid out to infinity…… only to be reassessed when funds are used to cover shortfalls created by tax cuts for the elite.

  9. Jackrabbit

    “Fast track” authority limits Congress’s role in trade negotiations. The Administration presents a finished deal, and individual members have only an up or down vote.

    ==

    This is not the way its supposed to work. The way ‘fast-track’ authority is supposed to work is that Congress is consulted DURING negotiations. Congress and the Executive are SUPPOSED to work together to fashion the agreement.

    ‘Fast track’ authority also calls for US trade negotiators to bring relevant private sector interests into the discussion. The President can give discussions with these companies and groups an arbitrary level of secrecy to protect their info. The administration is certainly using the secrecy provisions – despite not yet having ‘fast-track’ authority(!)

    But what seems to be happening is an end-run around ‘fast-track’ provisions. Fast-track is supposed to be agreed upon in advance of negotiations so that Congress can be part of the process.

    Congress can hardly complain about not being informed/consulted when ‘fast-track’ has not yet been formally approved! At the same time, the Administration pays lip service to the fast-track provisions so as to garner the votes they need when it comes up for a vote.

    The result is as Yves claims: …. [to] limits (sic) Congress’s role in trade negotiations. The Administration presents a finished deal, and individual members have only an up or down vote.

  10. denim

    The disguise wears thin.
    Obama in the beginning.

    “What follows is the complete text of Sen. Barack Obama’s speech before the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., in which the Illinois Democrat officially announced he was running for president.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-250_162-2458099.html

    “A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence.” He nodded. Miles Davis’s “Kind of Blue” was playing in the background. “Or a good piece of music,” he said. “Everybody can recognize it. They say, ‘Huh. It works. It makes sense.’ That doesn’t happen too often, of course, but it happens.”

    http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2004/05/31/040531fa_fact1?currentPage=all

    https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Barack_Obama
    Sour notes galore now. Those with talent are left out.

    1. kimsarah

      I don’t know about you, but even though I voted for him, I long ago found it nearly impossible to watch or listen to Obama without cringing in pain, turning my head and covering my ears in pitiful embarrassment.
      I find it less painful to watch the teabaggers speak because they don’t know any better.

  11. expertpanel

    oday, 13 November 2013, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The WikiLeaks release of the text comes ahead of the decisive TPP Chief Negotiators summit in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 19-24 November 2013. The chapter published by WikiLeaks is perhaps the most controversial chapter of the TPP due to its wide-ranging effects on medicines, publishers, internet services, civil liberties and biological patents. Significantly, the released text includes the negotiation positions and disagreements between all 12 prospective member states.
    The TPP is the forerunner to the equally secret US-EU pact TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), for which President Obama initiated US-EU negotiations in January 2013. Together, the TPP and TTIP will cover more than 60 per cent of global GDP

  12. Ignacio

    “If the payment is not made, the award can potentially be enforced through the seizure of assets of the government that has been sued, or through tariffs raised on the country’s exports”

    Thus, “free trade” consists on passing the rigth to raise tariffs from governments (for whatever political, environmental or social reason) to corporations for the sake of whatever a CEO wishes to achieve.

    These deals look quite sordid. It is understandable why the terms are kept in secret.

  13. Barmitt O'Bamney

    Of course Congress is upset about being kept in the dark about TPP negotiations! If they aren’t in the loop, if they have no influence or input, and can’t offer anything specific to the many well heeled, interested parties, how can collect bribes?

    I have perfect faith that, as Mr. Obama is a pragmatist, he’ll find a remedy for this soon enough, and bring Congress in for their cut of the spoils.

  14. Teejay

    Pardon my naivete’, I’m stumbling over the meaning of “investor-state” is their a teacher in the comment gallery
    that can school me here? Whether they are individuals or
    countries what is the purpose of distinguishing a nation-state from a non nation-state?

    1. savedbyirony

      Very simply put: it’s about nation sovereign rights. Supposedly we live in a Representative Republic with governement leaders put in place by mechanisisms which allow for the general public to put them there and remove them when they are not acting in the public’s interests. The TPP arranges for our nation’s sovereign rights to be supperceded by Corporate designed and run tribunals. Thus Corporations’ and their owners/investors have rights, the citizens of individual countries, states and cities do not. Wealth rules, period!!

  15. Susan the other

    A better solution to world free-trade, would be for all countries to free-trade with abandon, place their orders, pay their invoices; when the stuff arrives just haul off all the crappy imports the minute they are unloaded, dump them in a huge pit, and burn them. At some point it will be realized that free-trade can be better accomplished symbolically, and just make symbolic orders but still pay up in real money. The money goes round and round but the injustice is embargoed.

      1. Susan the other

        No wait! I think I finally understand The Burning Man Festival. Take all those imports, symbolic of a useless world economy, and stockpile them exclusively for the yearly Burning Man Festival. Build the giant effigy out of all the crappy imports and more than a few lousy domestic products and cremate it.

        1. Chauncey Gardiner

          Great idea, STO !!… and a creative logical expansion of the 2013 Cargo Cult theme: http://www.burningman.com/art_of_burningman/bm13_theme.html

          But isn’t there some way to more precisely focus the event on the TPP?… perhaps art that incorporates pill containers, computer networks, financial derivatives, fossil fuel extraction and transport, etc.? Of course, we can only speculate until we see the precise terms of the proposed agreement that is being kept from us so intently.

  16. Chauncey Gardiner

    Why the rush… and why “Fast Track”?

    Clearly there are material things going on that are not being divulged… exposures in financial derivatives, for example?

    Or is this all about surrendering our national sovereignty to his large transnational bank and corporate patrons in exchange for the incumbent’s own “revolving door” in 2016 — “speaking” fees, a lucrative “book” deal, a presidential library, various boards, etc.

    Incompetence?… or hidden motivations?

    Regardless, this proposal goes far beyond lacking merit.

  17. Vedicculture

    We don’t have to worry about the TPP or its future incarnates to 2017 when the new President comes in.

    That leaves a long to build the politics for it.

  18. just a reader

    anybody else having problems / issues with copy and pasting into another document from the posts here? was fine until today. any behind the scenes changes made?

    argh

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’m sorry you are having trouble but we have not changed anything in ages.

      Try reloading the page or closing and reopening your browser.

  19. Adriannzinha

    I think the word that’s gotten out to millionaire club known as the US legislature is that Obama is a sizzling hot potato these days that everybody wants to a) attack and characterize as dishonest if said legislator plays for team R(epublican) b) distance themselves from Obama to have any chance for reelection and score poll points for those on team D(emocrat).

    I’m of the inclination that this is yet another deal that will get done. Possibly via a backdoor, probably with a few carrots and crumbs tossed at some legislators much as will be done with the Europeans with the NSA.

  20. voltaic

    Obama is reminding me more and more of GWB, but at least you knew the lies GWB was telling. Obama hides much more than he is willing to share. Why he hates the truth so much is remarkable and disturbing. He is willing to shaft the American people to give his crony corporate clowns the run of the land and the justice system. He promised transparency and delivered shadows. He promised to fight for the American worker and against the bankster interests and he fought for the bankster interests at the expense of the American worker. He reminds me of Ali and his rope a dope way to win fights, but Obama uses Hope a Dope where he gives the sheepled masses hope and delivers them a completely different and worse product.

    1. Vedicculture

      With this, Obama is irrelevant. It won’t be signed under his watch.

      You need to look deeper…………

  21. different clue

    Hope-a-Dope is a good name for what Obama does. Maybe people will start using it.
    Obamatrade is a good derisive name for what Obama wants. Maybe people will start calling it Obamatrade. Or the Obama TPP. Or some such.

  22. muysuave

    Citing from Asahi Shinbun is like citing from Fox News. Asahi Shinbun is the right wing ideologically inspired newspaper for Japan.

    Readers must also keep in mind Japan is a very nationalistic country where Japanese-ness is seen as superior. A virtue. Foreigners/outsiders are to be viewed with skepticism.

    Japanese nationalist elements (ex Asahi Shinbum) are working overtime to ensure protected Japanese industry sectors stay protected — like cars, rice, and anything else Japan holds a dominate position out of the trade negotiations.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I’ve worked in Japan and I differ with your reading. Asahi Shinbun may be pro-business, but it’s not lunatic like Fox News. And why should Japan give up national sovereignity? And more important, why should this reading be disregarded? The nationalists happen to be politically ascendant right now. That suggests Asahi Shinbun’s take is a good reading.

    2. Barutan Seijin

      The Asahi Shinbun may be nationalistic and conservative by some standards (mine, for example) but have you read the Sankei, Yomiuri or Mainichi Shinbun? I think any of those are closer to Fox/Newscorp than the Asahi.

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