Monday, November 04, 2013

TPPA Forum on 7/11/2013, 7.30pm, Petaling Jaya

Malaysia is currently part of the countries discussing, agreeing and signing the Trans-pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPA). What the agreement is all about is 'SECRET' and all we know about the contents of this agreement is what has been 'leaked'. One major concern is that this agreement between countries gives an unacceptable power to corporations (not just corporations but even the investors including shareholders) to 'SUE' countries like Malaysia not in Malaysia but in some arbitration tribunal in the US -  this is covered by the section on Investor-state Dispute  Settlement (ISDS) mechanism. This upcoming forum will give us a greater understanding about this.

Now, in this TPPA process, apparently once matters have been agreed that is it - makes one wonder what Malaysia has already agreed to and is stuck. One condition for any new country joining in the TPPA process is that they have no choice but must agree to all that has already been agreed. 

We have the WTO(World Trade Organisations) agreements, which is fairer and/or more just for smaller countries because everyone is involved in the process - but now some of the 'big boys' want to move away by entering Bi-Lateral Trade Agreements (FTAs) and now the TPPA which are even more unjust for the peoples of small and/or developing countries like Malaysia. Malaysia talks about ASEAN but why is ASEAN not involved as an entity which definitely will give Malaysia greater bargaining power? Is the TPPA really an attempt by US and the West to 'curtail or attack' China, India and Russia the growing other economic powers in our region?  

The Anti-FTA coalition is organizing a public forum on ISDS. There will be 3 international experts speaking on this issue:

1. Mr. Pablo Salon – former free trade negotiator with the Bolivian government and current Executive Director of Focus on the Global South.

2. Ms. Cecelia Olivet – an established political scientist specializing in international investment regime. She is currently with Transnational Institute (TNI) and is also a member of the Ecuadorian Commission, established by Presidential decree, to audit Ecuador’s bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and investment arbitration cases.

3. Prof. Gus Van Harten –associate professor  at York University, specializing  in International Investment Law, Administrative Law, and Public Inquiries. He has written various books and journal articles on international arbitration, and will be presenting recent empirical research about how the core arbitrators have used their power.

Details of the forum
Date: 7 November 2013
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: MBPJ Civic Centre, PJ

As you know, Malaysia is part of the Trans-pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPPA) negotiations. It is widely reported that the negotiations will be concluded as soon as the end of the year.

One of the key are of concern in the TPPA is the Investor-state Dispute  Settlement (ISDS) mechanism, which allows corporations to sue governments under a flawed arbitration system that is pro-corporate, unfair, and not transparent.

Some cases are a direct attack on human rights, e.g. on how tobacco giant Phillip Morris is suing the Australian government under the ISDS system for introducing cigarette packaging regulations to promote public health.

Let me know if you have further queries, I can be contacted at

 (Health) Philip Morris v. Australia: tobacco giant Philip Morris is suing over anti-smoking laws on compulsory warning labels on cigarette packs. The company argued that this prevented it from effectively displaying its trademarks, causing a substantial loss of market share. Interestingly, Phillip Morris is pursuing this case even after the High Court in Australia has ruled in favour of the government.

 (Environment) Vattenfall v. Germany – The German Government is sued for €3.7 billion for lost profits related to two of its nuclear power plants. The case followed the German government’s decision to phaseout nuclear energy after the Fukushima nuclear disaster

 (Affirmative Action) Piero Foresti and others v. South Africa: In 2007, Italian investors sued South Africa over its Black Economic Empowerment Act which aims to redress some of the injustices of the apartheid regime.

 (Labour, policy space) Veolia v. Egypt – The French company launched a case against Egypt for “breach of investor protection” to maintain “equilibrium”. e.g. fluctuations in the exchange rate between France and Egypt, changes in population levels, and increased labour costs (following Egypt’s minimum wage introduction in 2011).

(Public Regulation) Ethyl Corporation v. Canada – In 1997, the Canadian government had to reverse its ban on MMT (a known human neurotoxin) and pay US$13 million in compensation to Ethyl Corporation after the company Ethyl filed a NAFTA investor-state claim. Ethyl Corporation, an energy giant, argued that the ban on MMT would affect its profits.


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