Civil Society Raises TAFTA Concerns

taftapartayAs 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.

Any earlier press event featuring many of the same organizations involved in the civil society symposium was covered by the New York Times, Washington Post, The Hill and Think Progress.

An archived webcast is of the symposium available online:

TAFTA Symposium
Washington, DC  *  July 9, 2013
(presentations begin at 0:08:39)
0:08:39:  Debbie Sease, Sierra Club
Opening Panel: What’s at Stake 
0:10:25:  Virginia Robnett, Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (moderator)
0:18:20:  Lori Wallach, Public Citizen (TAFTA context) – slides here
0:31:35:  Natacha  Cingotti, Friends of the Earth Europe (European perspectives) – slides here
0:41:06:  Celeste Drake, AFL-CIO (labor perspectives)
0:50:42:  Discussion
Environment Panel  
1:00:45:  Carroll Muffett, Center for International Environmental Law (moderator)
1:06:22:  Ilana Solomon, Sierra Club (investor-state, energy & climate) – slides here
1:20:36:  William Waren, Friends of the Earth U.S. (downward harmonization)
1:31:06:  Discussion
Food Panel  
2:02:46:  Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition (moderator)
2:06:53:  Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumer Association (GMOs) – slides here
2:15:31:  Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Institute for Trade & Agriculture Policy (emerging technologies) – slides here
2:30:21:  Discussion and Conclusion