A new word in the English language has recently been coined: investor-state. The term refers to corporations who have the power to sue nations before an jurisdictional tribunal for infringements on their commercial interest. Phillip Morris, for example, has sued Australia over that country’s rules requiring hazardous warning labels on cigarette packaging. http://theconversation.com/big-tobacco-vs-australia-philip-morris-scores-an-own-goal-4967)
Who are these investor-states? Well, besides Phillip Morris, Monsanto, the Bank of America, Chevron and Exxon Mobil are among them and they’ve been granted their power though a negotiated agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Current members of this trade circle are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.
Ironically, only 5 of the 29 measures in this agreement speak directly to trade issues. The other 24 reach into areas previously unthinkable. It restricts, for example, a sovereign nation’s ability to support local produce within its borders and proposes sweeping changes with regard to the internet. The United States government rejected SOPA, the bill that would have instituted rigid copyright laws on intellectual property, but those same rules are proposed under TPP.
That the negotiations underway lack transparency is an understatement. So far, the measures have been kept under lock and key. Even members of Congress are beginning to complain about the lack of information. Below is a 10 minute clip from Democracy Now which speaks to the issue:.
In the United States, we have seen the consequences of giving corporations the same right to free speech as individuals. Giving them nation status is an idea that should keep everyone awake at night.
(Courtesy of www.theage.com.au)