Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange recently published leaked chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive trade agreement between fourteen Pacific Rim countries, including the United States.
The infamous Wikileaks has struck again: Founder Julian Assange recently published leaked chapters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive trade agreement between fourteen Pacific Rim countries, including the United States. The agreement is the largest ever international economic treaty, even topping the monopoly that is NAFTA, and would allow for control of roughly 40 percent of the world’s economy. The agreement was finalized this past October between the U.S. and participating countries after seven years of negotiations. Though some aspects of the treaty have been publicized, Wikileaks continues to disclose the intimate details of the agreement that have not been formally announced by the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Assange has concluded that the “Investment Chapter”, which divulges the motivation of U.S. negotiators in allowing corporations to sue the government if future profits are disrupted, remains at the forefront of his concerns.
Reporter Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! met with Assange to discuss the implications of this treaty. According to Assange,
“[The partnership] is very well guarded from the press and majority of people and even from congressmen. But 600 U.S. companies are part of the process and have been given access to various parts of the TPP. Essentially, every aspect of the modern economy, even banking services, are in the TPP… embedding [a] new, ultramodern neoliberal structure in U.S. law and in the laws of other countries that are participating and putting it in treaty form…with fourteen countries involved, [it’s] very, very hard to overturn.”
While in some cases, Assange does agree that the government could quite possibly be too powerful and corporations should exercise the right to sue on occasion, he is also quick to point out that only multinational corporations will have this privilege, not United States-specific corporations. Through this agreement, multinationals would basically maintain the ability to structure circumstances so that they take investments from the U.S., then sue the government for infringement on future, non-tangible profits.
One of the most pressing issues of this agreement is the resounding environmental and health impacts there may be as a result of government lawsuits. To exemplify the “Investment Chapter”, Assange describes the idea of a private hospital versus a government-funded hospital. If the government decided to build a hospital relatively close to a private establishment, the corporation who owned the private hospital would, under the TPP’s stipulations, have the right to sue the government. Essentially, the public hospital’s conception would imply arguable lost profits for the private hospital, thus giving them cause to sue. Similar legislation in Australia, Uruguay, and Togo has already proven to threaten regulatory health laws, as tobacco industries in these regions are suing their governments in an attempt to keep health warnings off cigarette packages. Assange points out that this right, while in some cases may be necessary, will overall affect national and local governments negatively, both in cost and adverse impacts on health and environmental regulations.
The implications of this treaty are frightening when considering how much power corporations can potentially wield over the government, particularly when health and environmental issues are called into question.
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