Fair trade activists put the spotlight on secretive international trade negotiations in Vancouver B.C.
Negotiators from 11 Pacific Rim countries met quietly in Vancouver to set new investment rules within the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). No announcement of this “intersessional” on investment was made to the public or the media. People in Canada first learned about this TPP ‘mini’ negotiation from an article in the Peruvian media on Friday June 16th, just days before the weekend negotiations. It was later confirmed by iPolitics.ca with no other details and has since been acknowledged by the federal government in a brief statement concluding the intersessional talks.
“It’s long past time to end the silence on the TPP,” says Kristen Beifus of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition. “It’s outrageous that this investor rights treaty is being developed behind closed doors. What they are negotiating will impact all of us, just as NAFTA has for 20 years, and we deserve to know what is being negotiated in our name.”
During the negotiations, activists from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, under the banner of the TPPxBorder network, gathered in Vancouver to challenge the TPP investment talks. They held an emergency teach-in at Greenpeace Vancouver offices and projected messages about the unacceptable secrecy in the TPP negotiations on downtown buildings (see photo). A rapid response protest was organized the next day outside the offices of Pacific Rim — a Canadian mining company that is suing El Salvador for $300 million under international investment rules that say corporate profits should be protected from community opposition to mining.
“The Pacific Rim case epitomizes everything that is wrong with investment treaties and investment chapters in corporate rights deals like the TPP — and why it was important to protest the intersessional TPP meeting in Vancouver,” says Stuart Trew, trade campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “The investor-state lawsuits are not decided by the courts but by unaccountable commercial arbitrators. Canada’s had enough of that through NAFTA. The last thing we need is to expand this across the Pacific to countries that can’t afford it.”
To learn more about the Investment Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, check out Democracy Now’s report Obama-Backed Trans-Pacific Partnership Expands Corporate Lawsuits Against Nations for Lost Profits