Controversial Content — The TPP contains a lot of controversial content – stuff that is clearly not trade – like increased drug costs for patients, restrictions to internet use, barriers to GMO safety labeling and more. But the first place to look to understand the nature of the TPP is how it will be enforced. Like other new generation deals: the defeated MAI and NAFTA, the TPP’s outcomes will be decided by unelected arbitration panels, based on NAFTA’s Chapter Eleven, called Investor State Dispute Settlement. ISDS is the foundation of all the new deals — it defines how and what the investors (re: transnational corporations) can change in a country in terms of its goods, services, finances, and policies. Under an ISDS framework, only the claims of the corporations, not the countries or the citizens, are juried.
An expansion of NAFTA — The TPP has been labeled an expansion of NAFTA by its creators and critics. To grasp its potential for damage, look no farther then NAFTA’s nearing one hundred cases brought against Canadians, Mexicans and Americans. NAFTA forced tax-payers to pay fees and settlements to corporations for health and safety regulations that obstructed anticipated profits. From marine life protection (Bilcon vs. Canada) to municipal landfill safety (Metalclad vs. Mexico) to toxic waste transport (SD Myers vs. Canada), a variety of complaints have been successfully argued by corporations against established laws and policy. Citizens have not been made aware their tax dollars are paying for the lawsuits in these supranational courts. The TPP gives corporations prior consent to fine us for health, manufacturing, and other policy that limits new areas of corporate profit.
Track Record or Promises — If your boss says they value your work, but passes you over for promotions, is it their words you value? If you’re partner claims commitment but cheats on you, do you believe their expressions or their behaviour? The predecessor of the TPP has a track record of cheating the people of Mexico, the US and Canada of their laws, their public safeguards, and their community security. Trade is the ultimate example of governments in bed with transnational corporations. What will you believe about the TPP: its track record or the accolades of its advocates?