Speaking from his ‘prison’ in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange explains the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty, which would link his home country of Australia with the U.S. economically. “It is mostly not about trade,” Assange says. “Only 5 of the 29 Chapters are about traditional trade.”
JULIAN ASSANGE, WIKILEAKS: First of all, it is the largest ever international economic treaty that has ever been negotiated, very considerably larger than NAFTA. It is mostly not about trade, only 5 of the 29 Chapters are about traditional trade.
The others are about regulating the internet, and what information internet service providers have to collect, they have to hand it over to companies under certain circumstances, the regulation of labor conditions, regulating the way you can favor local industry, regulating the hospital, health care system, privatization of hospitals, so essentially every aspect of a modern economy, even banking services are in the TPP.
So that is erecting and embedding new ultramodern neoliberal structure over U.S. law and the laws of other countries. And putting it in treaty form.
By putting it in a treaty form, there are 14 countries involved, that means it is very hard to overturn, so if there is a desire, a democratic desire to do it on a different path. For example, to introduce more public transport. Then you can’t easily change the TPP treaty, because you have to go back to the other nations involved.
Now looking at that example, what if the government or a state government decides it wants to build a hospital somewhere, and there is a private hospital has been erected nearby.
Well the TPP gives the constructor of the private hospital the right to sue the government over the expect loss, the loss in expected future profits. This is an expected future loss, this is not an actual loss that has been sustained, this is a claim about the future.
We know from similar instruments where governments can be sued over free trade treaties, that that is used to construct a chilling effect on environmental and health regulation laws. For example, Togo, Australia, Uruguay are all being sued by tobacco company Phillip Morris to prevent them from introducing health warnings on cigarette packaging...
It is not even an even playing field, lets say you were going to let companies, make it easier for companies to sue governments, maybe that is right, maybe the government is too powerful and companies should have the right to sue them in certain circumstances.
But it is only multinationals that get this right. U.S. companies that operate in the U.S. in relation to investments that happen in the U.S. will not have this right.
Julian Assange’s Wikileaks website is the only place where you can read one of the 29 secret chapters of this treaty. Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei. The TPP is the largest economic treaty in history, including countries that represent more than 40 per cent of the world´s GDP.