Press Release – Patricia Ranald

Trade Minister Robb has admitted today that he is ready to allow foreign investors the right to sue governments as part of the TPP. This would result in more cases like Philip Morris suing the Australian government for billions of dollars in an …Fair Trade group slams investor rights to sue in TPP
“Trade Minister Robb has admitted today that he is ready to allow foreign investors the right to sue governments as part of the TPP. This would result in more cases like Philip Morris suing the Australian government for billions of dollars in an international tribunal over plain packaging legislation,’” Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network said today. “This is unacceptable. Democracy and sovereignty should not be secretly traded away.”

“Minister Robb claims that health and environment legislation can be protected from such cases, but this is impossible because foreign investors can sue over the process as well as the content of legislation. Investors have pursued cases even when there have been so-called exemptions for public interest laws, by claiming the process of developing the law did not include “fair and equitable” treatment for them,” explained Dr Ranald. “Many cases have been won on this basis.”

Dr Ranald is in Bali at the World Trade Organisation meetings where talks are taking place between the 12 TPP Ministers leading up to their own meeting to try to strike a deal on the TPP in Singapore on December 7-10. Dr Ranald will also observe the Singapore talks.

“Minister Robb is making concessions in the vain hope of more market access for Australian agricultural products to US markets. But the US Congress has not even agreed to Trade Promotion Authority for the TPP, which means the detail of the text can be amended by Congress. The same Congress which shut down the US government in October could unpick any deal and remove Australian access to US markets at the behest of US farmers,” said Dr Ranald.

Minister Robb has also weakened his bargaining position by agreeing to ISDS in the Korean Free Trade Agreement.

“Thousands of Australians are expressing their opposition to US demands for investor rights to sue governments through social media (See: 1, 2, 3),” said Dr Ranald. The Australian Senate this week passed a motion supported by Greens and the ALP calling on the Government to release the TPP text. The consumer group Choice has collected 11,000 signatures calling for the release of the text,” said Dr Ranald.

“Australians want to see exactly what has been agreed before the deal is signed. We call upon the Minister not to trade off Australian democracy and sovereignty and to release the text for public and parliamentary debate before it is signed.”

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