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Investor rights pacts like the TPP severely restrict the ability of governments to adopt legislation and standards to protect the rights of working people and the environment. The TPP will undermine the rights of nations and peoples to determine our own economic and social policies. Restrictions on democracy and sovereignty will lead to the unrestricted power of transnational corporations.
Like NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), the TPP contains investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions which allow corporations to sue governments for legislation which could mean lost “future profits.” There were 12 such cases brought against Canada from 1995 to 2005, and another 23 cases since then. Canada has lost or settled six claims paying a total of $170 million in damages. Costs to taxpayers from these lawsuits will rise dramatically if the TPP takes effect.
Proposed intellectual property rules in the TPP would limit competition in the pharmaceutical industry from generic drug manufacturers. Patients will wait longer for affordable treatments, and medicine and vaccine prices will skyrocket.
The TPP values corporate profits over job creation and living standards. Changes to “rules of origin” rules will further reduce the percentage of a vehicle’s domestic content necessary to be called “made in Canada (or USA)”. This will wipe out 20,000 autoworker jobs in Canada. Thousands more jobs will be lost in manufacturing. This deal will favour the export of unprocessed raw materials, particularly from the forestry and mining sectors, instead of creating new jobs in value-added secondary industries.
The TPP threatens marketing boards and farmers. It would expand imports of U.S. milk and dairy products, at the expense of market share for Canadian dairy producers. The deal will allow milk imports from cows injected with the synthetic bovine growth hormone BGH, developed by Monsanto, the giant U.S. chemical corporation. BGH-injected cows yield unnaturally large quantities of milk, but suffer from more stress and health disorders, and premature death. The TPP would end the ban against BGH milk on Canadian grocery shelves, just one of many safety standards weakened by this deal.
If fully applied, the TPP chapter on the cross-border trade in education and public services would lock-in and intensify the pressures of commercialization and privatization. While the TPP exempts “services supplied in the exercise of governmental authority,” this exemption is too weak to protect services which are also sold on a commercial basis. In Canada, a variety of public and private education providers compete for students and revenues. So it will be difficult to protect the education sector (and other public services) from profiteering foreign corporations.
The world is at a critical moment in the fight against climate change, including a huge push for renewable energy. But trade deals which empower fossil fuel corporations undermine the environmental policies needed to tackle the climate crisis. The TPP would expand the legal tools used by corporations, which have brought nearly 700 lawsuits against more than 100 governments. For example, a Canadian corporation, TransCanada, is suing the U.S. government for $15 billion under the NAFTA agreement, demanding compensation for the Obama Administration’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline fossil fuel project.
The TPP contains clauses guaranteeing “non-discrimination” protection for transnational firms seeking to exploit natural resources located on indigenous lands. In Ecuador, oil giant Chevron-Texaco was fined heavily for causing serious environmental damage on indigenous lands between 1964 and 1992. Despite the ruling, Chevron continues to delay action through court appeals. Agreements like the TPP prioritize corporate interests over human rights in such cases.
Described by a US Defense Secretary as “important as an aircraft carrier,” the TPP is a key part of the US “Pivot to Asia” policy. The TPP is part of the US “Pivot to Asia” policy, and a key element of the drive by imperialist economic blocs to control resources and cheap labour, to crush working class resistance and to isolate potential rivals like the BRICS countries. Capitalist globalization and profiteering sets the stage for an endless “race to the bottom” in wages, working conditions and living standards, and for deadly new imperialist wars.
By expanding access for transnational corporate interests to the public sector, the TPP will disproportionately impact women, who are the majority of public employees. Similarly, the loss of government revenues due to private investor lawsuits reduces the funds available for education, health care, social programs and low-income housing, with a sharply negative impact on women.