Joe Firestone: The New York Times Soft-Pedals the Dangers of the TPP

Yves here. While the New York Times did a public service by joining Wikileaks in publishing a draft chapter of the TPP, the accompanying article is quite another matter. Joe Firestone has taken it upon himself toshred analyze it. The sad reality is that the Times is never going to oppose neoliberalism in a serious way.

By Joe Firestone, Ph.D., Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program. He taught political science as the graduate and undergraduate level and blogs regularly at Corrente, Firedoglake and New Economic Perspectives

Wikileaks did us all another service yesterday by releasing the “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP): Investment Chapter Consolidated Text,” and collaborating with the New York Times to get the word out. Jonathan Weisman wrote the story for the New York Times. Apart from providing a very high level and very selective summary of what the chapter says, the article contains talking points used by proponents and opponents of the TPP. I think a close commentary on the article and associated issues would be useful. So here it is.

An ambitious 12 nation trade accord pushed by President Obama would allow foreign corporations to sue the United States government for actions that undermine their investment “expectations” and hurt their business, according to a classified document.

Why are we negotiating the TPP at all? Why is it the business of the Representatives of the people of the United States in Congress to support agreements that will mitigate the political risks borne by American businesses who chose to invest in other nations, as well as the political risks borne by foreign corporations, who choose to invest in the United States? Why is it their business to provide protection against such risks to foreign corporations beyond the protections we provide to our own corporations?

The “expectations” of business investors are their own business, not the public’s business; and there’s no reason why either the government of the United States or the governments of other nations should have to accommodate themselves to these expectations. If it is the will of the people of a nation as expressed through their representatives to pass legislation that destroys the “expectations” of business investors, then that’s just too bad for the investors.

Private businesses have no right to expect that their governments will protect them against risks that they alone choose to take, and that they alone will profit from. Risk is part of the game of investing. It’s business.

In free market ideology businesses are supposed to shoulder their risks. They’re not supposed to manipulate their political systems to get legislation providing them with financial protection at the expense of the public. That’s not capitalism, it’s lemon socialism; and it is also one of the key components of fascism.

How have we come to this pass that we view it as legitimate for American businesses to demand that the American public ought to ensure them against the business risks they take abroad? When did it become acceptable to insulate large multinational corporations against the hazards of their folly?

The Trans Pacific Partnership — a cornerstone of Mr. Obama’s remaining economic agenda — would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia. Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

The TPP provides for three-judge “courts” to conduct the dispute settlement proceeding. One of the judges is actually selected by the corporate plaintiffs. All of the judges are private attorneys who in other disputes may have represented corporate plaintiffs, and it is common for attorneys to be shifting roles from “corporate advocates” in one case to “judges” in another. Of course, the advocates get paid far more than the judges.

Can anyone imagine a more criminogenic environment than this, where all the incentives are aligned in such a way as to extract funds from state treasuries for the benefit of corporations and corporate attorneys alike? Where are the representatives of the various nation-states in these tribunals?

To add to the travesty, there are no limits on the tribunals in the size of the awards they can mandate. So, let’s get this straight, according to the TPP, tribunals staffed by private attorneys who frequently advocate for the very corporations whose complaints they are deciding upon have unconstrained authority to award damages of unlimited size to these same corporations and then the governments of the nations would be obligated to pay these awards. So, assuming present policies in effect for government financing in most nations including the United States, the governments would increase taxes or increase borrowing to pay these awards.

For example, in the case of the U.S. currently, an award to a corporate plaintiff in the substantial billions, say $20 billion, would then cause the US to come up with that money. Meanwhile, the politicians would be begin to debate about where the money will come from. The Republicans, of course, will insist that the award must be paid for with austerity, and they will try to take the money out of entitlement programs, other safety net programs such as food stamps, unemployment insurance, and other welfare state legislation. They would refuse to tax the rich to finance this spending, and they would also refuse to reduce military spending, because . . . national security, of course.

So, tell me do we really want an international “trade agreement” that will expose the United States to unplanned levies from multinational corporations that would create budgetary political crises in the United States? Would any sane citizen want to take this risk, to mitigate the risks American investors take when they choose to invest overseas? Where does this craziness come from?

Backers of the emerging trade accord, which is supported by a wide variety of business groups and favored by most Republicans, say that it is in line with previous agreements that contain similar provisions. But critics, including many Democrats in Congress, argue that the planned deal widens the opening for multinationals to sue in the United States and elsewhere, giving greater priority to protecting corporate interests than promoting free trade and competition that benefits consumers.

Even if the TPP investment chapter is in line with previous agreements as stated, which may or may be entirely true, that doesn’t mean that the Congress ought to make the same mistake as it committed in previous trade agreements by approving investor state dispute settlement procedures that create unlimited liability for nation states and that provide biased quasi-legal procedures stacking the deck in favor of corporate complaints.

“We’ve done this before” is no defense of a proposed agreement among 12 nations that would expose the citizens of each of them to the risks that properly belong to foreign corporations, or American corporations operating in foreign nations for their own profit. Such corporations are guests in the nations they do business in. They should not be given advantages that aren’t enjoyed by domestic businesses.

”. . . . the cover mandates that the chapter not be declassified until four years after the Trans Pacific Partnership comes into force or trade negotiations end, should the agreement fail.”

This is a true outrage. What justification of national security could possibly be brought to bear to justify classification of the TPP drafts, hiding the drafts from the Congress, as well as the people, and then keeping the proposed or actual agreement, if passed, secret so that the American people can’t even know what the law is that may result in international levies of many billions of dollars upon them. Passing the TPP, while retaining this secrecy would drive home the lesson to all that the United States is no longer a democracy where the people rule. We must stop the passage of secret laws and the promulgation of secret regulations, and we had better start with the TPP.

“This is really troubling,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Senate’s No. 3 Democrat. “It seems to indicate that savvy, deep pocketed foreign conglomerates could challenge a broad range of laws we pass at every level of government, such as made in America laws or anti-tobacco laws. I think people on both sides of the aisle will have trouble with this.”

The United States Trade Representative’s Office dismissed such concerns as overblown. Administration officials said opponents were using hypothetical cases to stoke irrational fear when an actual record exists that should soothe worries.

Whether a record exists or doesn’t isn’t relevant here. First, because something can present little trouble for years and then be a key factor in catastrophe. Remember derivatives? No mainstream economists saw anything wrong with them or with the ratings they received from the ratings agencies for years until the economy crashed in 2008. So, the past record of a disaster waiting to happen can indicate no problem, and suddenly we have a crisis on our hands.

But second, and even more importantly, however, the record to date can’t erase the vulnerabilities and risks presented by an agreement like the TPP. Is it or is it not true that, under the TPP, some future policy of the US Government might be challenged by a multinational corporation and that such a challenge might result 1) in an award of damages as high as $100 Billion or more, as well as 2) the negation of legislation that might save environmental damages either in the trillions, or so great as to be beyond price?

I think this possibility is clearly there, and that since this is the case it would be the height of social, environmental, and fiscal irresponsiblity, to pass the TPP and take such a risk. Especially, to pass an agreement whose concrete net benefits for the American people have in no way yet been demonstrated by its advocates. Also, it is very hard to see how they could be demonstrated without TPP advocates making public the whole text of the agreement, so people can see what it provides for and assess for themselves whether these are likely to bring any net benefits to the American people.

With the TPP Congress is being asked to buy the proverbial pig in the poke. Well, they’ve previously bought three highly touted free trade agreements, and none of them has delivered net benefits to the American people in terms of net jobs created, or a higher standard of living for most of the population, or greater economic equality. So, I think the Administration, really needs to answer the question “What’s in it for us?” in concrete terms without delivering the glittering and deceptive generalities this president is so skillful at offering.

Weisman goes on to relate the talking point of TPP advocates that investor stste dispute settlement provisions are already in 3000 trade agreements, and 51 in which the US participates including NAFTA. Opponents reply by pointing out that companies in nations that are parties to the agreements with the US thus far “. . . . do not have the size, legal budgets and market power. . . “ to challenge the United States. And then they point out that the TPP would change that because it would empower wealthy investors in nations like Australia and Japan who could engage in the necessary legal action.

Weisman then cites the Methanex case, in which this Canadian company sued California under NAFTA for $970 million, because the State banned the chemical MBTE in its water supply, thus interfering with Methanex’s future profits. California won this case in 2005, and proponents of the TPP point to this result as what will happen generally when environmental regulations are challenged under the TPP. However opponents also point to it as an example of what can happen when wealthy investors from Japan and other powerful nations challenge the US.

From my point of view, the critics have the better of this exchange because even though the State won in this action, and even granting that governments may win most of the time in cases on a scale as large or larger than that one, it only takes one such case, decided by a biased three-judge panel dominated by attorneys who primarily work for corporate clients to deliver a financial crisis to a State. What if California had lost that case? What programs would have had to be cut, or taxes raised to pay off Methanex, and why should American states or the Federal Government or state taxpayers be subject to such risks? Again, what’s in it for us?

But as long as a government treats foreign and domestic companies in the same way, defenders say, it should not run afoul of the trade provisions. “A government that conducts itself in an unbiased and nondiscriminatory fashion has nothing to worry about,” said Scott Miller, an international business expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has studied past cases. “That’s the record.

First, under the TPP, the government would not treat doemstic and multinational corporations the same way, because the agreement would provide protections against risk that would not be accorded to domestic corporations, giving multinationals protections against political risks that Ameican corporations and investors would not have. And second, even if the record so far is that nations that treat multinationals without bias have no trouble with them, what is there in the treaty that guarantees this record in the future?

Why hasn’t such a guarantee of good behavior been written into it, so that we don’t have to trust multinational corporations to behave fairly? A trade agreement has to be evaluated on the vulnerabilities and risks it presents to the nations signing it, because sooner or later some wealthy investor in a multinational will take advantage of those vulnerabilities and make those risks turn to real and severe costs. After all, why should they not? The only duty they have is to profit, not to fairness or a particular nation’s public purpose.

Weisman points to the argument that while the US has been sued only 17 times thus far under investor state provisions. US governments have been sued 700,000 times in US courts by corporations. It is a puzzle why proponents of the TPP think this is a good argument.

The US government allows corporate litigation in its own courts confident that multinational corporations will not have an unfair advantage there. Corporations must feel the same way since they have sued 700,000 times in these venues. But for reasons mentioned above, nations cannot expect fair treatment in the extra-judicial trade tribunals because they are staffed by paid corporate servants unaccountable to the people of the nations sued, including the people of the United States.

Under the terms of the Pacific trade chapter, foreign investors could demand cash compensation if member nations “expropriate or nationalize a covered investment either directly or indirectly.” Opponents fear “indirect expropriation” will be interpreted broadly, especially by deep pocketed multinational companies opposing regulatory or legal changes that diminish the value of their investments.

Included in the definition of “indirect expropriation” is government action that “interferes with distinct, reasonable investment backed expectations,” according to the leaked document.

“Investment” is defined so broadly in the TPP that it applies to any asset that is either owned or controlled. And since regulations always affect assets defined as broadly as this, the potential for legal action is there in relation to almost any new regulation that may be passed by any government. So, the significance of the TPP is that it places chains on democratic governments.

An example of what can happen under the TPP is Occidental Petroleum’s legal action against Ecuador:

The cost can be high. In 2012, one such tribunal, under the auspices of the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, ordered Ecuador to pay Occidental Petroleum a record $2.3 billion for expropriating oil drilling rights.

This case makes it clear that the extra-judicial trade tribunals, such as the ones envisioned in the TPP and the US-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty, under which this case was decided, can have considerable power over the economic life of nations. The blow taken by Ecuador in this decision is roughly equivalent in economic importance for Ecuador to an award of $340 billion assessed against the Government of the United States. Only it may be even worse for Ecuador, since it is not a currency sovereign having adopted the US Dollar as its currency not too long ago in its history. Instead, it is just a currency user, with the limited policy space of an American state or a Eurozone nation.

Is it responsible for any state to incur the risk of this much impact to its finances due to the action of an international trade tribunal? I can only imagine what the repercussions would be here if such a fine were assessed against the United States and the Congress decided that the fine has to be “paid for” rather than financed through borrowing or through using seigniorage. The blood would flow very swiftly on Capitol Hill if such a thing happened.

Under the Trans Pacific Partnership, a member nation would be forbidden from favoring “goods produced in its territory.”

This is the provision that would conflict with “Buy American” legislation, institutionalized here since the 1930s. For myself, I think that being able to favor domestic businesses over foreign ones is extremely important.

Free trade is an ideological commitment for many. But there’s no doubt that general implementation of free trade rules would prevent the government from legislating industrial policy, and more specifically would limit the policy space of the government in nurturing industries that it viewed as vital to the American future or to American national security. In view of this, I would never approve any agreement prohibiting the government favoring the products of American companies, if the government wanted to follow such a policy.

Being able to “Buy American” is an essential aspect of the sovereignty of the United States. And in my view Congress and the President have no right to give away this aspect of our sovereignty.

Weisman’s article goes on to discuss mitigating factors in the proposed TPP agreement. There appear to be three. First, the TPP proposes:

. . . clear transparency rules mandating that tribunals be open to the public and arbitration documents be available online. Outside parties would also be allowed to file briefs.

Transparency in the quasi-judicial proceedings of the TPP is certainly good, but it cannot heal damages that are occurring because of a faulty trade agreement. All it can do is aid in reform after the cow has left the barn.

Second:

. . . one article states that “nothing in this chapter” should prevent a member country from regulating investment activity for “environmental, health or other regulatory objectives.” But that safety valve says such regulation must be “consistent” with the other strictures of the chapter, a provision even administration officials said rendered the clause more political than legal.

So, no clear legal provision allowing provisions regulating investments for public purpose is in evidence. Any attempts to pass such legislation would be subject to the interpretations of investors and the corporation dominated tribunals.

And third,

. . . regulatory actions meant “to protect legitimate public welfare objectives, such as public health, safety and the environment” do not constitute indirect expropriation, “except in rare circumstances.” That final exception could open such regulations to legal second guessing, critics say.

That’s a little better. But the critics are surely right that the exception clause would open the way to endless claims asserting that a complaint is an “exception.” Considering the composition of the three judge panels, the exception clause clearly opens the way to corporate friendly decisions invalidating legislation pursuing “legitimate public welfare objectives.”

Most importantly, what those are would then be determined by the three judge panels and not by the processes of American democracy. In fact, any delegation of Congress’s authority to determine what laws will govern the United States to these three judge tribunals is giving away part of our sovereignty, and, in my view, exceeds Congress’s authority to delegate.

All of which brings me to one final issue. Is there anything in the TPP that would compromise the monetary sovereignty of the United States and subject us to the influence of the bond vigilantes in the international credit markets, now subordinate to the policies of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury in collaboration?

I think there is. Specifically, I don’t see anything in the TPP investment chapter requiring that damages be awarded in the sovereign currency of nations incurring damage awards for lost profits, but only that they be awarded in a “freely usable currency” as specified by the IMF. That means, that complainants in these tribunals could ask for damages to be payable in foreign currencies, which the US would then owe in that currency.

Right now the US fuflfills the three essential conditions for monetary sovereignty: 1) it issues its own non-convertible currency, 2) which it allows to float on international currency markets; and 3) it owes no debts in any currency other than dollars.

So, it flows from these considerations, that passing the TPP would create the conditions for ending US monetary sovereignty for the first time since the international gold window was closed in 1971. So, to add to all other risks I’ve outlined, there is this one too. And for what? As far as I can see only for the purpose of protecting the investors in multinational corporations, both our own and those resident abroad.

In my view, this trade-off isn’t in accord with public purpose, and it gives away key aspects of the sovereignty of the United States. In addition, it undermines American democracy and takes another step down the true road to serfdom. Let’s not take that step. Instead, let’s send the TPPers packing, along with their brain child and their other current proposals, the TTIP and the TISA, two more contemptible spawn of rampant neoliberalism.

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24 comments

  1. sd

    Hypothetical legal question, if California seceded from the United States, would it still be a party to TPP? I’m asking because a defense might be breaking a nation into smaller independent states to defend a populace from paying what looks an awful lot like extortion.

    1. jgordon

      That question is probably worth thinking seriously about. Smaller political units will be the norm going forward regardless due to environmental constraints and loss of access to cheap energy and this could be a significant challenge for them. But I suppose that by the time nation states are collapsing the global economy will already be defunct at that point so the question is probably not worth spending a whole lot of time on.

    2. craazyboy

      I would think if you could get over the hump of secession, you can do anything you want. But the “if” is quite unlikely – unless we have complete collapse.

    3. Felix_47

      And how about joining Mexico again? It would ultimately be a huge economic boon to both sides. Why should California pay taxes to support the rest of the US and Washington and the defense department? Can you imagine the economic boom if the 5 Freeway was extended to Cabo San Lucas and the border was eliminated?

      1. craazyboy

        Beachfront property!!!! I’ve always thought the US really blew it when they let General Santa Anna keep the Baja Peninsula.

    4. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      If California or other states or regions, seceded, of course they would be free of the TPP and all other US treaties as well, because the legal entity that concluded the TPP agreement would be the United States of America, not the new independent California.

    5. hunkerdown

      Hypothetical political answer: Doesn’t matter because California’s tycoons are, by a vast majority, all in for globalism and all in for TPP.

  2. jgordon

    I’m of two minds on the TPP question. While in the short term is could be consider “bad” because it is guaranteed to make most people’s lives a lot more miserable than they already are, longer term the pernicious effects it’ll have on the global industrial economy (hastening collapse) can only be considered a boon for the earth.

    Also since I generally am in favor of allowing parasites enough rope to kill their host, and considering that the host itself is a cancer on the earth, I think I will write to my representatives in support of TPP and whatever other horrific legislation/treaties they pull out of their asses. The sooner this pig goes down, after all, the more ecology will be preserved for the future biosphere recovery. So even though I don’t quite think congress is collectively venal enough to give TPP a pass just yet, I’m crossing my fingers.

    1. MRW

      I think I will write to my representatives in support of TPP and whatever other horrific legislation/treaties they pull out of their asses.

      Fool.

      The sooner this pig goes down, after all, the more ecology will be preserved for the future biosphere recovery.

      Recover for what? Nations of harmed and impoverished people? You’re beyond foolish. You’re cruel and unthinking.

      All hail humanity. Just phuck the humans.

    2. Ulysses

      Either you are clinically insane, or your comment is an attempt at very dark humor. I’m hoping the latter is the case here. If not, please do get some kind of help ASAP– feeling that the best thing that could happen to humanity is the extinction of nearly all its members, makes you a clear and present danger to yourself and others.

    3. Vatch

      I strongly suspect you are being sarcastic. For those who want less labyrinthine ways to protect our biosphere, spend some time browsing this site:

      https://populationspeakout.org

      As Professor Al Bartlett said,

      “Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”

    4. jrs

      While I could see wishing for economic slowdown or even collapse to save the biosphere, risky though that is, how is corporate dictatorship going to do it? It will just make it harder to. For instance how does corporate dictatorship make the existing planet destroying economic system more likely to collapse? If anything it gives it a bit more life by destroying all possible commons including clean air and water.

  3. nat scientist

    Like NAFTA, a reminder of the Global Clinton Insertion plans of the late 1990’s, designed to elevate snake oil salespersons to the upper echelons of foreign entanglement.

  4. shinola

    What if there was some way to get the meme out that any congress critter who supports these things is committing TREASON.

    1. ProNewerDeal

      Would it be possible for some US House Reps to threaten impeachment for Treason against any TPP supporters, including 0bama, JohnB0ner, etc, on these 2 grounds:

      1. It is Treason to give up US Constitution-defined power delegated to the US Congress to a private cartel of 3-person private pseudo-judges that are corruptly owned by un-democratic, unaccountable Oligopolistic MegaCorps.

      2. The process where the TPP is hidden or partially hidden from most Congresspersons, and definitely hidden from the citizen voters & the media, is also possibly Un-Constitutional.

      Could a lawyer, with expertise on the US Constitution, and how the mechanics (“sausage making”) of the US Congress & Exec branches are legally supposed to operate, comment on if Impeachment could be a legally valid tactic. (Note: I realize that legal validity would be a necessary yet insufficient factor without Actual Courage from a Congressperson, to actually publically accuse that Emperor 0bama & his kabuki fake-enemy colleagues like JohnB0ner have no clothes).

  5. DJG

    This article should be wakeup call to the “Greeks brought it on themselves” crowd. Since the begining of the 20th century, there have been many attempts to create supranational organizations. Some are good. It’s hard to argue against the Red Cross, as flawed as it is, or the Geneva Conventions about behavior in warfare. Yet the economic supranational organizatons are designed to loot. But the Democrats, in particular, won’t figure any of this out until the TPP is sponsoring bank runs in the U.S.A. and then the Democrats will blame it on their base as always. The Republicans will be happy that more easily concealed slush funds are available.

  6. susan the other

    I’m assuming that in addition to all of the above, which is limited to the chapter on dispute tribunals, that there is an even more egregious chapter on the subject of global resources, recently termed “the global commons.” The effect of this treaty chapter would, no doubt, be to prevent any sovereign country from protecting their own natural resources. To make it illegal to deny any corporation access to the resources it needs. That’s just as scary to think about as losing our monetary sovereignty. (Which was also Greenspan’s concern but written in such a way as not to harm the rest of the TPP’s hatchet job on the US economy.) And it is implied here that the guiding principle to a dispute claim is “equal treatment” so that if at some point the US puts its foot down on some international corporate practice because it is just too much to tolerate, then a slew of disputes will be justified because it is unfair treatment because “everybody else got to do it.” Is there some language in the TPP that specifies resolutions will be based on the social good that will be sacrificed or gained from all this unregulated trade?

    1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      We don’t know all that is in the TPP because it’s classified and will remain so for four years after its passage or its defeat. In a democracy this alone is enough reason to defeat Fast Track, TPP, and the other “free trade” agreements. The free trade agreements are really agreements to kill democracy in the various signatory countries signing these agreements. They are not “treason” as some have suggested, because of its technical definition, but negotiating them, and voting for them would certainly be violations of the oaths of office of all involved to uphold the constitution and the laws of the United States, in my view.

  7. Ian

    Hey, I got a response from my MP on TPP and am wondering about the best way to respond to the response. Here is the response:

    Thank you for your e-mail regarding the TPP free trade negotiations and your call for transparency.

    It is a myth that the Government of Canada is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement secretly.

    Throughout the negotiations, the Government of Canada has kept Canadians informed through its website http://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/tpp-ptp/index.aspx?lang=eng and has consulted to ensure that a TPP agreement would meet the needs of Canadians.

    As highlighted in Budget 2014, the Government of Canada remains focused on initiatives that will create jobs and economic growth for all Canadians. Approximately one in five jobs in Canada is linked to exports, and trade represents over 60 percent of Canada’s gross domestic product. In order to sustain job growth and prosperity at home, we need to open markets, create opportunities and ensure a level playing field for Canadians doing business abroad. Free trade agreements are effective tools to improve access to key international markets, and offer rules that provide stability and predictability. Ultimately, the goal is to create jobs and economic opportunities to enhance the prosperity of hard-working Canadian families.

    The TPP represents a significant opportunity for our country. Participation in the TPP negotiations is a key pillar of Canada’s ambitious pro-trade plan; it will strengthen our efforts to broaden and deepen our trading relationships with high-growth Asia-Pacific markets and our traditional partnerships in the Americas. All the members of the TPP are priority markets in our recently-released Global Markets Action Plan. We are pursuing outcomes in the TPP that will benefit Canadians in all regions of our country, and remain cognizant of the need to ensure that Canadian public policy objectives and priorities are maintained. It is worth noting that in all of its free trade agreements, the Government retains the ability to regulate in the public interest.

    The Government is committed to consulting with Canadians and continues to hear from civil society groups, provinces and territories, academia and individuals in this and all our other trade negotiations. On a regular basis throughout the negotiations, we have engaged with stakeholders through in-person meetings, online question and answer webinars, information briefings and stakeholder events associated with each round of negotiations.

    During the negotiations themselves, there have been a total of five formal stakeholder events. Stakeholders from any TPP country have been invited to come and make presentations not only to negotiators from their own country but to negotiators from all TPP countries, followed by a question and answer session. Since Canada joined the TPP talks, more than 800 stakeholders, including 23 Canadian groups, have presented to the negotiating teams to express their views. These consultations have helped inform Canada’s negotiating positions and will continue to be taken into consideration as the negotiations move toward conclusion.

    The views of interested stakeholders, including civil society groups, will continue to be taken into account even after the TPP negotiations are concluded. Canada will continue to consult as we advance our interests through the various working committees of the agreement.

    On January 25th, 2008, our Government announced a new policy requiring all treaties between Canada and other states or entities, and which are considered to be governed by public international law, to be tabled in the House of Commons for 21 days for public review. This reflects our government’s commitment to democracy and accountability. Further, an international trade agreement like TPP requires enabling legislation to be tabled which then has to go through full debate (three readings) and committee review in both the House of Commons and the Senate before the agreement is ratified and comes into force. This debate involves not only Members of Parliament and Senators but also ordinary members of the public who can participate as witnesses at committee hearings.

    With respect to the draft text under negotiation, it is important to note that it is a working document for negotiators, and is subject to change. Confidentiality is only maintained to the extent required to allow our civil service negotiators to most effectively promote Canada’s interests at the negotiating table. Canada will continue to follow the practice used by all nations when negotiating international agreements, which is to publicly release the full text once it is agreed to by all negotiating parties. In the meantime, our negotiations will continue to be informed by the many hundreds of stakeholders that we continue to consult throughout the process.

    The Government will continue to pursue outcomes across all areas of the TPP that will benefit Canadians, and we will only sign an agreement that meets this objective. For more information and for updates on the negotiations, I invite you to visit the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada website at http://www.international.gc.ca/TPP.

    Thank you for taking the time to write.

    Sincerely,

    Ron Cannan, P.C., M.P.
    Kelowna – Lake Country
    “Your Kelowna – Lake Country voice in Ottawa”
    (250) 470-5075 (Constituency Office in Capri Mall)
    (613) 992-7006 (Parliament Hill Office)
    http://www.cannan.ca

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