As closed-door negotiations on the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) opened just across town, consumer, environmental, family farm and labor advocates gathered at the Washington, DC offices of the Sierra Club to discuss serious concerns about the potential pact.
Speakers from a variety of disciplines warned that corporations and government officials from both U.S. and Europe have already identified consumer, environmental, financial and other public interest policies as so-called “trade irritants” that they hope TAFTA will help eliminate.
Many pointed out that including investor-state dispute resolution in TAFTA would elevate individual corporations to the level of nation states in their ability to use the pact to challenge a host of laws, regulations, permitting decisions and even court decisions.
The event closed with the suggestion that the best way for individual Americans to influence TAFTA, as well as the much-closer-to-conclusion Trans-Pacific Partnership, is to urge their Members of Congress to oppose new Fast Track legislation, which would enable both pacts to circumvent ordinary Congressional review, amendment and debate procedures.
An archived webcast is of the symposium available online:
TAFTA SymposiumWashington, DC * July 9, 2013.(presentations begin at 0:08:39).Welcome0:08:39: Debbie Sease, Sierra Club.Opening Panel: What’s at Stake0:10:25: Virginia Robnett, Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (moderator)0:18:20: Lori Wallach, Public Citizen (TAFTA context) – slides here0:31:35: Natacha Cingotti, Friends of the Earth Europe (European perspectives) – slides here0:41:06: Celeste Drake, AFL-CIO (labor perspectives)0:50:42: Discussion.Environment Panel1:00:45: Carroll Muffett, Center for International Environmental Law (moderator)1:06:22: Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club (investor-state, energy & climate) – slides here1:20:36: William Waren, Friends of the Earth U.S. (downward harmonization)1:31:06: Discussion.Food Panel2:02:46: Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition (moderator)2:06:53: Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumer Association (GMOs) – slides here2:15:31: Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Institute for Trade & Agriculture Policy (emerging technologies) – slides here2:30:21: Discussion and Conclusion