Corporate Sovereignty Finally Enters The Political Mainstream

from the yet-another-ratchet-clause dept

Techdirt has been writing about investor-state-dispute settlement (ISDS), aka corporate sovereignty, for more than three years now. During that time, we've published well over a hundred articles on the topic. Increasing numbers of people have become aware of the threat that ISDS represents to democracy because of the privileged access it grants companies to a parallel legal system. Now, it seems, it's beginning to enter the political mainstream around the world.

A couple of weeks ago, the leader of the UK's Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, promised to reject TAFTA/TTIP if he were in power, and to vote against it if he were in opposition. One reason for that, he said, was his concerns over:

the facility for corporations to sue national governments if regulations impinged on their profits.
The Labor Party in Australia has also started to make pronouncements about corporate sovereignty:
The opposition's trade spokeswoman, Penny Wong, said Labor would try to remove so-called investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) clauses from every trade agreement, and every bilateral investment treaty, that Australia has signed.

It means Labor plans to review three major trade agreements concluded by the Abbott-Turnbull governments -- with China, Korea, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- that have ISDS provisions.
That comes at a time when the current Australian government is thinking about doing exactly the opposite:
The Turnbull government is considering adding a controversial provision to the Japan-Australia free-trade agreement that would allow foreign corporations to sue the Australian government.
Here's why it's taking that odd course of action:
The negotiations have been triggered by a relatively unknown clause in the Japan-Australia agreement, which was signed by the Abbott government in 2014.

The clause states that if Australia's government signs any future trade deal with another country that includes an ISDS provision then the Japan-Australia deal would be subject to an automatic review "with a view to establishing" an ISDS provision in it.

The trigger for such a review was the China-Australia free-trade agreement, which came into force on 20 December 2015, because it included an ISDS provision.
In other words, this is yet another "ratchet" clause that ensures changes only ever move in one direction -- to the benefit of companies, and against the interests of the public. It's yet another reason never to include corporate sovereignty chapters in these so-called trade deals.

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  • identicon
    CharlieBrown, 14 Jun 2016 @ 12:07am

    Australian Trade Deals

    A few months ago the government ran a series of ads to promote trade agreements saying things like 'With trade agreements, our farmers can sell their produce to China' all the while generic brand (Home Brand) frozen corn is made in China already and has been for years.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 14 Jun 2016 @ 12:58am

    Eerie...

    The clause states that if Australia's government signs any future trade deal with another country that includes an ISDS provision then the Japan-Australia deal would be subject to an automatic review "with a view to establishing" an ISDS provision in it.

    You mean, like a Windows 10 Update becomes a "recommended patch" and is foisted upon users with a variety of tricks legally based on wishy-washy language in the previous "but they would never use it for $x" EULA? And if you close the dialog, it gets scheduled anyway?

    "Oh don't worry about this clause, it's just reserving a tiny slot in your door for us to keep the tip of our crow bar dry. Standard provision, everybody does that now."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bill Gates I'm calling you out., 14 Jun 2016 @ 10:24am

      Re: Eerie...Win 10

      The windows 10 eula is what, 45 pages long full of legal jargon? No normal every day user would ever be expected to be bound by such a joke on planet earth ever.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2016 @ 1:09am

    Set up the domino-tiles to fall and wait for the first one to go...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2016 @ 2:49am

    There is not a lot of difference between the Liberals/Nationals and the ALP

    Both of these parties are more alike than different these days. I wouldn't put too much stock in anything that Penny Wong says. She will still jump when told to do so by her political bosses.

    It is quite disappointing this time round, we even have various political pundits comparing the too sides as being very close to each other, irrespective of their party trappings.

    Both are quite happy to create a police state, both are happy to line their political mates (and their own) pockets at the expense of the public. neither are actually interested in pursuing the programs needed to fix the infrastructure problems in Australia.

    And before anyone says the Greens are an alternative, when one actually looks at the details of the Greens policies, all one sees is the utter destruction of Australia for the benefit of a small number of beneficiaries. They are no different form their larger compatriots. There doesn't appear to be any majors groups that are actually interested in the well-being of the citizens of this great nation.

    Ah well, maybe better luck next time. Though if the pollies keep pushing at the good natured citizens, they might find that the good-natured citizen is no more and .....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2016 @ 5:18am

      Re: There is not a lot of difference between the Liberals/Nationals and the ALP

      whilst i agree that the ALP and the LIBS are two sides of the same coin, Wong has repeatedly spoken out against her own party. Also what Greens policies are you talking about mate? Ludlum has received a few mentions on techdirt for his statements regarding internet freedoms. they wish to remove negative gearing, improve health and education along with various other pro people policies. are you scared they might try and take your bolt action?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2016 @ 10:20am

      Re: There is not a lot of difference between the Liberals/Nationals and the ALP

      won't just be an arab spring but a worldwide spring in every "free world" country at this rate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Craig Welch (profile), 14 Jun 2016 @ 4:16am

    Empty words from the Labor party. There is no mechanism to remove ISDS from a done deal such as the TPP. All the Government can do is not to ratify it. That would be a good thing of course.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Jun 2016 @ 10:18am

    selling out their citizens for profit should see most world leaders hanged in a just world. sadly this is not a just world.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Fudd Mucker, 14 Jun 2016 @ 10:19am

    Raise Corporate TAXES

    Politicians who would not be in favor of raising corporate taxes if threatened by a corporation should be impeached.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 14 Jun 2016 @ 12:07pm

    Behold my fancy tin-foil beanie!

    Seriously, this is totally a means by which the people are ultimately silenced in favor of global corporate oligarchy.

    It's the New World Order: no voice for the people.

    If someone knows how I've gone conspiracy-theory mad and corporate sovereignty isn't exactly all that please explain it to me. Because I know it sounds crazy paranoid, yet it seems to be true.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Kronomex, 14 Jun 2016 @ 9:38pm

    Corporate lobbyists would lean on LNP Lite and after a while the whole thing about ISDS would be quietly swept under the carpet.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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