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The Trans-Pacific Partnership Would Undermine Democracy

In early November 2015, after seven years of close-door negotiations with the public, press and policymakers locked out, the final TPP text was released. In chapter after chapter, the final text is worse than expected, with the demands of the 500 official U.S. trade advisers representing corporate interests satisfied to the detriment of the public interest.The text reveals that the pact replicates many of the most controversial terms of past pacts that promote job offshoring and push down U.S. wages. 

The TPP’s secret process threatens basic democratic principles. Even our representatives in Congress – elected as caretakers of the domestic policies that the TPP would rewrite – were denied access to the TPP text for years. Only late in the negotiations were they allowed to see select chapters, unaccompanied by staff, and under the condition that they not share what they read with the rest of us.

Meanwhile, a small group of unelected negotiators directly advised by hundreds of corporations  inalized TPP rules that would bind democratically-enacted, non-trade policies affecting air quality, access to medicines, our jobs, food safety, financial stability and more. Failure to conform domestic policies to TPP rules could result in trade sanctions. Changing TPP rules if a deal is signed would require the untenable task of getting all signatory countries to agree to the change.

The final TPP text reveals that the deal would even empower foreign corporations to skirt domestic courts and directly challenge our health, environmental and other public interest policies before extrajudicial foreign tribunals. On the basis of TPP-granted corporate privileges, corporations could attack domestic safeguards they claim undermine future expected profits. The validity of our policies would be decided by World Bank and UN tribunals comprised of three corporate lawyers, unaccountable to any electorate. When ruling against a domestic policy and in favor of a foreign corporation, the tribunals would be authorized to order unlimited amounts of compensation with our taxpayer dollars.

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