25 March 2015
Current TPP negotiation member states are,
The TPP is the largest economic treaty
in history, including countries that represent more than 40 per cent
of the world's GDP.
These investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals are designed to overrule the national court systems.
ISDS tribunals introduce a mechanism by which multinational corporations can force governments to pay compensation if the tribunal states that a country's laws or policies affect the company's claimed future profits. In return, states hope that multinationals will invest more.
Similar mechanisms have already been used. For example, US tobacco company Phillip Morris used one such tribunal to sue Australia (June 2011 - ongoing) for mandating plain packaging of tobacco products on public health grounds; and by the oil giant Chevron against Ecuador in an attempt to evade a multi-billion-dollar compensation ruling for polluting the environment. The threat of future lawsuits chilled environmental and other legislation in Canada after it was sued by pesticide companies in 2008/9.
ISDS tribunals are often held in secret,
have no appeal mechanism, do not subordinate themselves to human
rights laws or the public interest, and have few means by which
other affected parties can make representations.
In the United States the
administration plans to "fast-track" the treaty through
Congress without the ability of elected officials to discuss or vote
on individual measures. This has met growing opposition as a result
of increased public scrutiny following WikiLeaks' earlier releases
of documents from the negotiations.
The third treaty of the same kind, also negotiated in secrecy is TISA, on trade in services, including the financial and health sectors. It covers 50 countries, including the US and all EU countries.
WikiLeaks released the secret draft text of the TISA's financial annex in June 2014. All these agreements on so-called "free trade" are negotiated outside the World Trade Organization's (WTO) framework.
Conspicuously absent from the countries involved in these agreements are the BRICs countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China.