Certification: How The US Demands Even More Concessions After Trade Agreements Have Been Signed And Ratified

from the enough-is-never-enough dept

The battle raging over the fast track bill is essentially one about control: who gets the final say over so-called trade agreements like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP. If the US President is not given trade promotion authority, it is possible that Congress will demand changes to the negotiated text; with fast track, it will be a simple up or down vote. That’s also the situation in other countries participating in the negotiations: once the text is agreed upon, they can essentially accept it or reject it. However, a group of senior politicians in five of the TPP nations point out that after those votes, the US can still demand further concessions from its partners thanks to a process known as certification:

Senior parliamentarians from five countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have signed an open letter urging their political leaders to protect their nations? sovereignty from the United States’ process of certification.

Here’s how that works:

The US withholds the final steps that are necessary to bring a trade and investment treaty into force until the other party has changed its relevant domestic laws and regulations to meet US expectations of its obligations under the agreement. In the past, US ‘expectations’ have gone beyond what is in the actual text, and even included matters that were rejected in negotiations.

US officials can define another country’s obligations; become directly involved in drafting that country’s relevant law and regulations; demand to review and approve proposed laws before they are presented to the other country’s legislature; and delay certification until the US is satisfied the new laws meet its requirements.

In other words, even though other nations might think that after their agreement and ratification of the text, everything is fixed, the US reserves the right to come back and demand changes to domestic laws and regulations so as to ensure that the implementation is as it wishes. That’s no mere theoretical option: it has been used against both Peru and Australia recently. In the latter case, the US was unhappy with the legislation enacting the Australia-US free trade agreement (AUSFTA), and demanded that Australia bring in a supplementary law that actually went beyond the terms of AUSFTA. Even then, the US reserved its right to take legal action if it felt that Australia had still not gone far enough.

The publication of the open letter (pdf) to the political leaders of the TPP nations is a timely reminder that however much sovereignty they might be willing to give up during the negotiations for the sake of supposed gains, the US may want even more concessions — without, of course, granting other countries the same prerogative.

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Comments on “Certification: How The US Demands Even More Concessions After Trade Agreements Have Been Signed And Ratified”

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That One Guy (profile) says:

The question that needs to be asked

Why does any country continue to be so incredibly stupid as to sign anything with the USG?

Really, I understand, in negotiations both sides are focused on one thing only: getting the best deal for them. But no-one, bar none, is so willing to screw over their ‘partners’ than the USG, and other countries ignore this at their own risk.

(Also, as if we really needed yet another reason that these ‘trade’ agreements need to die…)

David says:

Re: The question that needs to be asked

Why does any country continue to be so incredibly stupid as to sign anything with the USG?

Negotiators are bribed separately. Confidentiality is necessary to keep the bribes smaller than the spoils: once you have to grease the public themselves for access to their pockets, it’s unlikely that you’ll carry off net winnings.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

The problem with the idea of killing people to save the planet is that it is very old and is in EVERY elite book
(like Malthus, Galton Darwin, Club of Rome, UN, …)
And THEY SAY it makes more sense to kill the massess,
because of math.

So if under the current power scheme you are ok with killing humans to save the planet, you are asking the elite to fulfill their plans and kill you.

David says:


It’s becoming less and less surprising that these trade agreements are kept secret even after ratification.

That’s not a deal, it’s a slaughterhouse. It is no wonder that the “negotiators” are not interested in having too much light cast on the deals: they are the proverbial cockroaches in the slaughterhouse.

And for hygienic reasons it is high time to figure out exactly any channels where blood is leaking through to the roaches and close them off. Those negotiators are clearly not driven by the interests of the countries purportedly paying them. So any “side” channels they feed upon most be closed down with heaviest penalties (after all, they are selling their countries out to higher bidders and are thus mercenary traitors).

At any rate, step 1 is: no secret negotiations. Vermin hates light for good reason.

Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously says:

What are the possible repercussions for refusing to implement the demands? The 301 list has no consequences and should not be feared; The ammont of `lost’ investments is laughably neglectable; The US could initiate a sanctions-war but would suffer from that too; Military occupation will lack support from citizens.

On the other hand, once a single country grows a bit of spine and refuses to implement these demands, the treaty is basically dead. This could just as well turn out to be a very effective way of sabotaging the secret process of these secret treaties.

Now, where to find a country with some backbone?…

Who Cares (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The non US parties agreed to a treaty with this little booby trap in it. By not agreeing to change the laws as the treaty demands when the US asks for it a whole raft of punishments can be levied on the country not changing their laws to suit the US. Everything from not implementing the US parts of the treaty to going to the WTO.

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