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Friends of the Earth opposes NAFTA-style investment chapter in Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement

Posted Sep. 6, 2011 / Posted by: Kelly Trout

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Kelly Trout (in Washington, D.C.), 202-222-0722, ktrout@foe.org
Bill Waren (in Chicago), wwaren@foe.org

Negotiators meeting in Chicago should ditch unfair investment provisions that threaten the environment

CHICAGO, ILL. -- As representatives from the United States and eight other Pacific countries gathered behind closed doors in a Chicago hotel to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, environmental, public health, family farm, labor and consumer organizations gathered today to demand a fair deal or no deal through a week of protests, teach-ins and advocacy.

“If corporate lobbyists get their way, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact will be a clone of the failed NAFTA model, empowering multinational corporations to run roughshod over environmental and public health protections,” said Bill Waren, trade policy analyst for Friends of the Earth U.S.

“NAFTA-style investment provisions would let big oil, mining, tobacco and agribusiness companies avoid accountability to national governments or courts for the environmental destruction and social injustices wrought by their investment projects,” added Waren. “The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and its investment chapter in particular, must not be based on the failed and patently unfair model of the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

NAFTA-style investment agreements grant expansive new rights to foreign investors to sue governments before international tribunals for the cost of complying with environmental and other public interest regulations.

One current tribunal case involves the Pacific Rim corporation, which sued the government of El Salvador in 2009 through an international investment tribunal authorized by the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The company wanted to mine for gold using dangerous cyanide leach methods that threatened the water supply of poor communities. After communities fought back and the Salvadoran government adopted new environmental safeguards, Pacific Rim sued the Salvadoran government for millions of dollars in compensation.

“It flies in the face of democracy to give corporations the right to squeeze millions of dollars out of governments for doing nothing more than enforcing laws to protect the public. Friends of the Earth strongly urges President Obama’s negotiators and those from the eight other Pacific nations meeting in Chicago to reject the NAFTA model for trade agreements and investment chapters in particular,” said Waren.

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Friends of the Earth fights to defend the environment and create a more healthy and just world. Our campaigns focus on promoting clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.

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