- Eye on Media
As the highly secretive 12-country trade deal being negotiated by the United States and Pacific rim nations continues, Wikileaks on Monday has released two new documents that reveal information that would otherwise be unavailable to the general public.
Having received an advance look at them over the weekend, the Huffington Post reports that the documents, which were generated by one of the countries (but not the U.S.) involved in the TPP talks, show that the "Obama administration appears to have almost no international support for controversial new trade standards that would grant radical new political powers to corporations, increase the cost of prescription medications and restrict bank regulation."
The latest leaks, which give a sense of where the talks stood since discussions took place in Salt Lake City, come as a new round of talks are slated to take place in Singapore this week.
According to the Huffington Post:
One of the most controversial provisions in the talks includes new corporate empowerment language insisted upon by the U.S. government, which would allow foreign companies to challenge laws or regulations in a privately run international court. Under World Trade Organization treaties, this political power to contest government law is reserved for sovereign nations. The U.S. has endorsed some corporate political powers in prior trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the scope of what laws can be challenged appears to be much broader in TPP negotiations.
"The United States, as in previous rounds, has shown no flexibility on its proposal, being one of the most significant barriers to closing the chapter, since under the concept of Investment Agreement nearly all significant contracts that can be made between a state and a foreign investor are included," the memo reads. "Only the U.S. and Japan support the proposal."
With the Obama administration pushing for 'fast-track' authorization in Congress—meaning that lawmakers would be forced to give an up-or-down vote on the presented trade agreement without the ability to add, subtract, or alter sections of the text—the notion of transparency and the anti-democratic nature of the negotiations have taken center stage.
As the Huffington Post reports:
Previously leaked TPP documents have sparked alarm among global health experts, Internet freedom activists, environmentalists and organized labor, but are adamantly supported by American corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Obama administration has deemed negotiations to be classified information — banning members of Congress from discussing the American negotiating position with the press or the public. Congressional staffers have been restricted from viewing the documents.
The first document, which has been redacted and edited in order to shield the source nation, reveals the deep divisions between the United States and the other nations, and shows what is described as "great pressure" being exerted by the US delegation in order to move other nations to their position:
The second document lists, country-by-country, the many areas of disagreement remaining between the negotiating countries: