Writing for The Huffington Post, James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, noted some ominous language in the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter of the trade deal. This chapter expands companies’ rights to challenge limitations to intellectual property, including copyrights and patents.
In short, major corporations can sue entire countries included in the deal if that corporation feels the country’s laws will undermine its projected profits. Philip Morris International’s lawsuit against Uruguay is a prime example of international corporate bullying.
Uruguay has some of the world’s strictest anti-smoking laws. The country requires cigarettes to be sold with warnings and graphic pictures showing the dangers of smoking. This law has proven quite effective as smoking rates in Uruguay have decreased by 4.3 percent annually since 2005. However, Philip Morris argues that this law violates treaty law. They sued the country for $25 million.
This is corporate bullying. Philip Morris’s annual net revenue averages approximately $70 billion a year. Uruguay’s total gross domestic product as of 2012 was $59 billion. Philip Morris’s plan is to bury Uruguay in legal fees until the country submits and changes the law. This is wrong, and the company is using its wealth and legal advantage to protect its profits.
The language contained within the ISDS chapter of the TPP would only expand the power that companies like Philip Morris have over small, poorer countries. Not even the United States is protected. If a foreign company felt an American law interfered with its profits, that company could sue the U.S. under the TPP, and American taxpayers would have to pay for it.
“With the veil of secrecy ripped back, finally everyone can see for themselves that the TPP would give multinational corporations extraordinary new powers that would undermine our sovereignty, expose U.S. taxpayers to billions in new liability and privilege foreign firms operating here with special rights not available to U.S. firms under U.S. law,” said Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.”
The TPP is an extremely dangerous trade deal. It has oft been called “NAFTA on steroids.” There is nothing in the TPP that protects consumers and workers. Its only purpose is to serve the interests of giant, multinational corporations. The TPP nullifies several regulations designed to keep the big companies under control.
The TPP is a horrible deal. It needs to be stopped.