Some good news on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement for a change:
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration appears to have almost no international support for controversial new trade standards that would grant radical new political powers to corporations, increase the cost of prescription medications and restrict bank regulation, according to two internal memos obtained by The Huffington Post.
The memos, which come from a government involved in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, detail continued disputes in the talks over the deal. They reveal broad disagreement over a host of key positions, and general skepticism that an agreement can be reached by year-end. The Obama administration has urged countries to reach a deal by New Year's Day, though there is no technical deadline.
One memo, which was heavily redacted before being provided to HuffPost, was written ahead of a new round of talks in Singapore this week. Read the full text of what HuffPost received here. (Note: Ellipses indicate redacted text. Text in brackets has been added by a third party.) Another document, a chart outlining different country positions on the text, dates from early November, before the round of negotiations in Salt Lake City, Utah. View the chart here. HuffPost was unable to determine which of the 11 non-U.S. nations involved in the talks was responsible for the memo. The Obama administration was not available for comment Sunday evening.
Previously leaked TPP documents have sparked alarm among global health experts, Internet freedom activists, environmentalists and organized labor, but are adamantly supported by American corporations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Obama administration has deemed negotiations to be classified information -- banning members of Congress from discussing the American negotiating position with the press or the public. Congressional staffers have been restricted from viewing the documents.
One of the most controversial provisions in the talks includes new corporate empowerment language insisted upon by the U.S. government, which would allow foreign companies to challenge laws or regulations in a privately run international court. Under World Trade Organization treaties, this political power to contest government law is reserved for sovereign nations. The U.S. has endorsed some corporate political powers in prior trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, but the scope of what laws can be challenged appears to be much broader in TPP negotiations.