Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is growing as people in affected countries express their disquiet.
Within Malaysia, I don’t think there has been enough media coverage and political debate on this huge trade pact, which is going to have far-reaching implications. Obama is anxious to get Malaysia and the countries in this region to sign on the dotted line, and that could be why he was being so ‘pal-ly’ with Najib, going on a charm offensive over golf.
So Nurul Izzah’s piece below serves as a timely reminder of what is at stake:
Solidarity against unfair free trade pact, which will allow corporations to rob us of our taxpayer ringgit via ISDS
Thousands of protesters took to the streets across Europe on Saturday to oppose the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), said to be the world’s biggest free trade pact between the US and European Union.
According to media reports, the campaigners in Europe are doubtful the consumer interests is the higher priority compared to the corporate interests in the secret negotiations. Among others, the deal includes a clause which allows corporations to sue governments in tribunals that are above national law.
We stand united with the citizens of Europe protesting against the TTIP as we face/undergo the TPPA negotiation process in secret – with little clue on its ramifications on existing national laws and government policy space.
The specific concern appears in the secret Trans Pacific partnership Agreement (TPPA); in the form of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). The TPPA is set to be finalised and signed this year between the United States and 11 other countries across the Pacific Rim including Malaysia.
Throughout the world governments have paid over US$3.5bn to corporations in investor-state cases under existing US Free Trade agreements which is also applicable under the TPPA. Under this clause, corporations can use secret tribunals to sue countries for billions of our taxpayer ringgits. (http://www.exposethetpp.org)
As we face numerous domestic crisis such as GST, Pota, the Sedition Act, 1MDB and the debate on our constitutional supremacy, we must remain vigilant of TPPA which is expected to be passed this year. Not to mention that we have yet to see the finalised report of the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) promised by the government and Miti since August 2013 which is a clear show of incompetence. Never mind that there is a potential bulldoze in Parliament when they plan to sanction the TPPA signing.
A leaked negotiating text from June 2012 shows that the ISDS will allow TPPA countries to sue the Malaysian government for millions in damages in secretive offshore tribunals. Foreign investors could as well claim that new laws introduced by Malaysia have breached their special rights under the TPPA, and thus threatens the value of their investments. This agreement puts corporate interests ahead of the rakyat’s interest.
Australia’s Productivity Commission has come to a conclusion that:
There does not appear to be an underlying economic problem that necessitates the inclusion of ISDS provisions within agreements. Available evidence does not suggest that ISDS provisions have a significant impact on investment flows. Experience in other countries demonstrates that there are considerable policy and financial risks arising from ISDS provisions.
The ISDS clause in the agreement is proof that the TPPA is no more than an attempt to imperialise the world’s economy by vested parties.
As such, I urge the government to tread carefully before signing the agreement. The protests in Europe over the same issue cannot be mere coincidences. We need to take steps to ensure that any trade agreement is both fair and free; without the shackles from any profiteer-minded entities.
Nurul Izzah Anwar
MP for Lembah Pantai