Now that the complete text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) has been released to the public, provisions that put the security of the United States at risk have proven the danger of negotiations conducted in secret without the benefit of public debate.

The small print in the 5,544-page pact reveals a major reversal in long-standing policy designed to protect critical infrastructure, including port operations, from takeover by foreign investors.

In addition, the TPP, confers remedies on foreign investors that exceed those available to American entities, including the right to have disputes heard by a foreign tribunal without appeal.

In the past, U.S. trade agreements stated unequivocally, as a part of the language of the pact, that the national security interests, as determined by the government of the United States, took precedence over the terms of the pact, acknowledging the right of the U.S. to take any action deemed necessary to protect those interests without repercussion by any of the other parties to the agreement.

The TPP does away with this crucial and longstanding protection, granting foreign investors increased rights to purchase land, natural resources, businesses, infrastructure and even ports and other investments within the U.S.

Significantly, other sovereign nations party to the agreement, including Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand retained in the pact the same right to determine their national security interests that the U.S. signed away.

Chapter 11 of the massive agreement would allow foreign entities and countries to sue the United states for violation of the TPP if they were denied investment opportunities by local, state or federal regulatory bars or policies, demanding billions of dollars in compensatory damages.

Such bars would include health, environmental protection and land use policies that the foreign firms saw as violating the rights and expectations they received as parties to the trade agreement.

Lawsuits would be heard by an "investor-state dispute tribunal" comprised of three attorneys drawn from around the world, which would have the authority to overrule any decision by the U.S. government as to what constitutes a national security threat.

At present, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, is tasked with reviewing foreign investments within the U.S. and can recommend that the investments be denied or terminated if they are deemed to present a threat to national security. Foreign investors would have no appellate rights under the current system.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership impacts 40 percent of U.S. imports and exports with 11 other nations, including Canada and Mexico, Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia, but also the Sultanate of Brunei, a country governed by Sharia law.




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