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Fri Aug 19, 2016, 03:19 PM


If you oppose the TPP, you don't care about people in poor countries [View all]

Bullpucky. Baloney.

I care about the labor activists murdered in Columbia.

I care about those suffering La Oroya, Peru because of the massive poisoning of the environment resulting in death and illness and 35,000 people leaving the town.

I care about those supposedly protected by FTAs written by corporations for the profits of corporations. The reality has been and continues to be woefully lacking environmental and labor enforcement provisions. And that's true about the TPP.

There's nothing wrong about the ISDS, proponents of the TPP and other FTAs tell us. The U.S. has never lost a case. True, but there have been several cases that were lost on technicalities and if the TPP is enacted, many, many more corporations will have the right to bring cases under the ISDS provisions against the U.S. There are also pending cases.

It's ironic that those of us opposing the TPP are accused of being selfish and America-centric and not caring about people in poor and emerging economy nations.

If you want to understand the cases brought against nations by corporations, read this entire chart


It details all the cases.

The Investor State Dispute Settlement System may not have impacted the U.S. yet, but it's a matter of time with more and more corporations gaining access to it should the TPP be enacted.

The obscure legal system that lets corporations sue countries

Luis Parada’s office is just four blocks from the White House, in the heart of K Street, Washington’s lobbying row – a stretch of steel and glass buildings once dubbed the “road to riches”, when influence-peddling became an American growth industry. Parada, a soft-spoken 55-year-old from El Salvador, is one of a handful of lawyers in the world who specialise in defending sovereign states against lawsuits lodged by multinational corporations. He is the lawyer for the defence in an obscure but increasingly powerful field of international law – where foreign investors can sue governments in a network of tribunals for billions of dollars.

Fifteen years ago, Parada’s work was a minor niche even within the legal business. But since 2000, hundreds of foreign investors have sued more than half of the world’s countries, claiming damages for a wide range of government actions that they say have threatened their profits. In 2006, Ecuador cancelled an oil-exploration contract with Houston-based Occidental Petroleum; in 2012, after Occidental filed a suit before an international investment tribunal, Ecuador was ordered to pay a record $1.8bn – roughly equal to the country’s health budget for a year. (Ecuador has logged a request for the decision to be annulled.)

Parada’s first case was defending Argentina in the late 1990s against the French conglomerate Vivendi, which sued after the Argentine province of Tucuman stepped in to limit the price it charged people for water and wastewater services. Argentina eventually lost, and was ordered to pay the company more than $100m. Now, in his most high-profile case yet, Parada is part of the team defending El Salvador as it tries to fend off a multimillion-dollar suit lodged by a multinational mining company after the tiny Central American country refused to allow it to dig for gold.

The suit was filed in 2009 by a Canadian company, Pacific Rim – later bought by an Australian mining firm, OceanaGold – which said it had been encouraged by the government of El Salvador to spend “tens of millions of dollars to undertake mineral exploration activities”. But, the company alleged that when valuable deposits of gold and silver were discovered, the government, for political reasons, withheld the permits it needed to begin digging. The company’s claim, which at one point exceeded $300m, has since been reduced to $284m – still more than the total amount of foreign aid El Salvador received last year. El Salvador countered that the company not only lacked environmental permits but also failed to prove it had obtained rights to much of the land covered by its request: many farmers in the northern Cabañas region, where the company wanted to dig, had refused to sell their land.



One bit of good news:

Peru won an arbitration case over Renco Group Inc.’s claim that the government overstepped its authority by ordering an affiliate, Doe Run Peru, to clean up pollution linked to lead and zinc smelting in the mountain town of La Oroya and forcing it into bankruptcy.

An arbitration panel issued a partial award for Peru on July 15, the Ministry of Economy and Finance said Monday in a statement. New York-based Renco, owned by billionaire Ira Rennert, sought $800 million in compensation.

In a statement, Renco described the decision as “an insignificant victory for Peru” based on “technical legal grounds.”

“Renco plans to immediately refile the same claims in a manner that cures the technical legal defect that was the basis for the dismissal,” it said, voicing confidence that a tribunal ultimately will “render a substantial award in Renco’s favor.”

The case illustrated the complexities of allowing private investors to file arbitration claims against sovereign nations, and it became a lighting rod for the debate over remediation claims allowed under trade agreements.



An arbitration proceeding aimed at ending a longstanding dispute between Mexico and the US on 'dolphin safe' labeling of Mexican tuna could occur soon, the publication STR Trade reported.

In November 2015 the World Trade Organization (WTO) upheld a ruling that the US was discriminating against Mexican tuna imports, by applying the tougher catch verification and documentation rules to Mexican fishing fleets in the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean purportedly to safeguard dolphins.

The US has since changed its rules but Mexico is requesting the US be subject to $472 million in sanctions related to its actions.



The WTO ISDS is not exactly the same as the ISDS provisions incorporated into FTAs.


I am not against free trade. I am firmly opposed to the template long used by the USTR which drives these agreements.

Fair Trade, not Trade that is tilted sharply toward corporate entities.

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