New Generation Trade blog

A call for trade that protects the new generations coming to this beautiful planet.

The Cheating Nature of the TPP

The TPP_Actions Speak Louder Than Words

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?


The Good News on the TPP

1b_Knowledge is Power_ImageNASA JPL Photo credit

The text of the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) was finalized behind closed doors in Atlanta last week, and millions grieved. The CETA half of the TTIP was completed in September 2014 to upset thousands upon thousands. Neither have been ratified, and the number of people knowing about the new trade, that isn’t actually trade, is growing on the daily. By cutting off pharmaceuticals for cancer patients, multi-lateral corporate trade pacts have acquired a new following. By threatening freedom of online speech, internet users are uniting to speak out against the TPP. By restricting sovereign agriculture, like Japan’s rice farmers, and proud manufacturers, like Canadian autoworkers, regular people are not buying so-called trade. Farmers on their tractors took to Canada’s capital in September 2015, and thousands of Japanese citizens, for whom protest has little precedence, have flowed through Tokyo’s streets. Yesterday, over 250 000 people chose raising their voices in Berlin over all other options. These diverse groups appearing on the world stage are an expression of knowledge and their act is one of determination. So the good news is that many people are talking now, and when the numbers rise reach critical mass, there is power. As in all civil rights movements, knowledge takes time to spread; the difference now is that we have the internet. Take heart in every connection. And know this TPP, or TTIP, or CETA, or any other multi letter delusion of law and politic: our response is to speak with more passion, to drive our lives with more inter-being, greater depth of purpose, and make all forms of ISDS our business to tell. Don’t take it personally, it’s not about you. It’s about caring for the security of new generations coming to this beautiful planet. And it is only a matter of time until the shift. What is unknown is how much time you will take. In these years of global redirect for fair economy, full democracy, stable climate, how much energy will you require? Our resistance is expanding. Our power is in knowing. Once people know, they do not like the new trade. Word by word, we are taking our power back.

The Deadly Tango of Trade and Climate Change

ISDS suppresses buy-local and supports climate change.

Sending more stuff around the globe! The aim of global free trade is to send evermore objects and services around the globe. Free trade suppresses local exchange by its philosophy and now, with the rise of investor state dispute settlement (ISDS), also by its law. Can we afford such unbalanced economics in a world beginning to witness the horrors of climate change?

Trade-ables are community assets! New generation trade deals are far more radical than most realize because of their content and how they are enforced. The majority of tariffs for goods were dropped by the nineties, and so trade industry specialists sought new markets. Trade-ables now are public assets like energy and water. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a first in this new trade frame, is one part energy treaty. For example, NAFTA article 605 requires Canada to export energy to the US.

Transnational Corporations hold serious power in trade! NAFTA popularized a way to hold nations to account for a corporation’s profits — Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). ISDS gives trade legal options for corporations to sue countries or communities to make more money in their sector, even from practices that may contribute to climate change, while sometimes making grassroots incentives illegal. ISDS has no capacity to reprimand corporate practices because it does not jury a nation’s complaints, only a business’!

Cases of Energy Corporations Suing Countries! The first NAFTA-case was won in 1997 by a company in the gasoline industry. Ethyl Corporation won the right to continue using gasoline that contained additives that Canada banned because studies showed them as potential carcinogens. Using the National Treatment clause in ISDS, Ethyl won 13 million from Canadians for their right to be treated like any other national interest. The fancy trade law term in ISDS is National Treatment. Canada was stuck with the additives.

What are NAFTA’s risks now as we move into the potential CETA– TTIP era? The world has moved on from NAFTA to CETA–TTIP, TTP! Does NAFTA still have impacts twenty-plus years after implementation? You bet your bottom dollar, and your communities. Quebec presently has a moratorium on fracking in the St. Lawrence region to study potential risks to water supply. Lone Pine Corporation launched a complaint against Canada under NAFTA. Lone Pine’s complaint is being heard in private trade courts, and whatever is decided there, like all ISDS cases, will supersede national and regional law. NAFTA’s foundation will shape the relationship and rules of the new CETA — TTIP with the EU. Trade rules, legally-binding, build on one another!

Dropping rules in Newfoundland, Labrador and beyond to help out corporations! On Friday March 6th, it was reported in the Globe and Mail that Canada was ordered to pay ExxonMobil and Murphy Oil 17.3 million because of policy for regional economic development in struggling East coast communities. Newfoundland and Labrador, still struggling from unrecovered cod fisheries, told the companies to pay into local Research and Development (R&D) in exchange for use of oil. The companies sued and Canada lost in the trade courts.

What does our future under the NAFTA–CETA–TTIP–TPP trade chain look like? Our future relies on humanity creating a much better balance of the environment and business in global economic policy. It’s time to try some new moves. Bring the public back to the dance of country-to-country economic affairs. Free trade treaties set the quality of life for all generations into the future, and will shape the outcome of climate security. I know, innocuous sounding policy. Who knew? A future case, reported in May 2014 in The Globe and Mail, could be launched under NAFTA for the Keystone Pipeline. TransCanada Corporation could ISDS-sue the US for its resistance to Alberta bitumen oil.

Do North Americans, known for contributing a hefty share of CO2, not have a responsibility to secure trade that puts the concerns of communities first? Or shall we continue to spend taxpayers’ money on legal fees and fines from corporate trade-suits against our laws.


The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) – An economic pact of Pacific Rim and North American Senior Government and Corporations

Is the TPP a people’s partnership? There is an assumption left over from the early days that trade is struck for people. When we were first enjoying bananas, coffee, and other non-local goods under trade deals, there were clear benefits of access and deliciousness. Now that barriers to goods are minimal across the globe, content has moved into the public Commons, or the stuff of everyday life in a community. However, the old assumptions remain a block to understanding the intimacy of content being traded away. Steve Shrybman, Canadian lawyer explains that trade “is the things that matter in everyday life: the food you eat, the work you do, the air and water quality in your community.” All of these appear true for the TPP.

Frequent concerns raised around the TPP are: rising drug costs for people, decreasing control over food networks for communities, and restriction to internet freedoms for all. CEOs of transnational corporations hosted in Pacific Rim and North American countries have advised on content. Citizen leaders and public concern groups have been excluded from the process.

Regular folks who follow trade agreements can become swiftly skeptical because the content has become the public’s assets but we are not allowed to see the details. Less consequential when one is deciding about goods to bring into a country, much more serious when deciding services, policy, and public spending. These markers of democracy are the sweet fruits born from suffrage. If we are losing the basic privileges of election because of trade’s legal system, the curiosity arises — what civic moment are we in?

It’s not just the lack of public consultation on content. Across the globe, citizens and some trade experts, are becoming disillusioned with the severity of how the rules are controlled. New trade from the TTP to the TTIP to CETA, includes a form of legal protection for corporations bar none to any other structure in the world – Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). ISDS is a binding protection service for corporations. It is how all other points in a pact are enforced. If a corporation feels that their profits are threatened by government initiatives, they can sue the country for recourse using specific trade rules. However, if a country feels unfairly treated by a corporation, there is no trade-legal recourse to restrain the corporation.

People with trade concerns are sometimes portrayed as extreme. Maybe the voices are simply responding to an urgent situation. There is nothing out of the ordinary about wanting communities at the table when drafting policy and creating norms for public spending and services. The blurring between trade and international laws is causing a global regression.

What is the deal with the everyday content of our lives being the subject of the TPP and other super-trade pacts?


The Brave New World of Climate Change and Trade

It’s no secret that the purpose of free trade is to send services and goods around the globe without restriction. What most don’t know is that restrictions are increasingly denied for things we want like environmental,  health and job protections. When market access for corporations is restricted for these reasons or to simply carve out a little bit of love for the local economy, it’s deemed a bad thing. The legalese labels this “discriminatory”. Favouring local jobs, goods, and services is in fact illegal in the wild world of trade because local sourcing can cause expropriation of a global corporation’s anticipated profit “assets”. Countries are not just given a verbal reprimand. New generation trade allows profit seekers to wield  lawsuits in special courts against protective laws.  Corporations can sue nations because they are using laws to protect the public in trade courts. Even more shocking, we cannot sue back. It’s a one way process called Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). This system transfers the power of law from nation states to investors. It is appropriately called Investor State for short.

On Sunday past, the National TPP Team with organized a trade webinar featuring Canadian Naomi Klein about the TPP (the Trans Pacific Partnership ~ see Trade Justice Dictionary), other new generation deals, and climate change. Klein summarized the intimate relationship between climate change and this style of international policy and gave examples of how free trade has supported the traditional energy giants. She shared how Lone Pine corporation is suing Canada for 230 million under NAFTA because of Quebec’s fracking moratorium. Doing what governments are employed to do, Quebec passed a temporary ban on fracking while researching impacts to people and water in the St. Lawrence region. NAFTA, which heavily features free market energy transfers, opened the doors to Investor State trade lawsuits about energy production.

In this time of serious environmental challenges, we need to be able to build our local economies and to source green energies without threat of lawsuit. One direction lawsuits from corporations to countries for loss of profits cannot create the right climate for humanity’s dilemma. On a planet with dangerously high emissions, we need to also invest substantially in the local economy to bring balance back. We need to have law on our side. May we begin to seriously care for our futures and our children’s by enacting policy that promotes climate security.

Klein’s talk can be found in audiorecording at: