by Kristinn Hrafnsson
15 January 2014
The leaked secret draft of the TPPīs (Trans-Pacific Partnership)
Environment Chapter, published today by WikiLeaks, underscores
how multinational corporate interests rule the negotiating process of
this important 12-nation treaty, representing more than 40 per cent of the
world's GDP and one-third of world trade.
On 13 November last year, WikiLeaks released the secret draft text of the
Intellectual Property Rights
Chapter, which showed how
nations were forced to change laws and to prosecute in defence of the
biggest corporate interests in the field of IP rights.
In sharp contrast, the Environment Chapter does not include enforcement
mechanisms serving the defence of the environment; it is vague and weak, and
adheres to the lowest common denominator of environmental interests.
The word "appropriate" is found in various forms in 43 places in the draft
text, in such contexts as:
"Where possible and appropriate, the Parties
shall seek to complement and utilize their existing cooperation
mechanisms and take into account relevant work of regional and
The word "may" is also found 43 times in the
In the draft Consolidated Text, governments are urged to,
"...make every effort to arrive at a
mutually satisfactory resolution...",
"...by any technological means available
agreed by the consulting Parties...",
"...on the basis of objectivity,
reliability and sound judgment...",
"...provided that the disputed Parties
"...take measures to prevent...",
"...shall make best efforts...",
"...exercise restraint in taking
"...in recognition of the
"...each Party retains the right to make
"...adopt or maintain appropriate
A selection of other favorite words in the draft
The Environment Chapter clearly shows the
intention to first and foremost protect trade, not the environment. The
principle is spelled out in this draft that local environmental laws are not
to obstruct trade or investment between the countries.
Furthermore, there is great emphasis on the
self-regulatory principle when it comes to environmental protection, and
"...flexible, voluntary mechanisms, such as
voluntary auditing and reporting, market-based incentives, voluntary
sharing of information and expertise and public-private partnership".
But even such measures should be designed in a
"...avoids the creation of unnecessary
barriers to trade".
Consolidated Text of the Environment Chapter
of the TPP Agreement was drafted by Canadian officials after bilateral
consultations with other TPP Parties.
It is dated November 24, 2013, the last day of
the TPP Chief Negotiators' summit in Salt Lake City, Utah. It outlines what
the Chairs of the TPP Environment Working Group evaluate as a compromise of
the Parties' different positions across issues.
In a separate four-page document the Chairs of
the Environment Working Group outline the main obstacles to agreement
between the negotiating countries.
It is noteworthy in the assessment by the Chairs that the US government is
isolated in its interest in placing enforcing mechanisms into the treaty to
protect the environment. Without access to the negotiating table, it is hard
to assess if the US representatives fought for this principle with the same
vigor as they did for policing and enforcement on behalf of intellectual
property interests, as can be seen in the leaked IP Chapter.
The TPP negotiations have been shrouded in secrecy during the three years
the treaty has been in the making.
The United States, as the largest of the 12
economies party to the negotiations, had originally pushed for the closure
of the agreement before the end of 2013. According to recent reports quoting
Andrew Robb, the Australian trade minister, the negotiations are in
the final stages and the treaty is "ready to be sealed".
Obama administration wants to
fast-track the TPP treaty through the US Congress, preventing Congress from
amending or discussing any part of it. A bill to this effect was released
last Thursday, 9 January, by the leaders of the Congressional committees
with jurisdiction over US free trade agreements.
With the WikiLeaks release of the drafts of two of the most controversial
chapters of the TPP, the media has now an opportunity to critically dissect
the issues with the public interest in mind.
The TPP negotiations have wider implications than for the 800 million people
in the 12 negotiating countries because the US administration, the dominant
Party at the table, has declared that the principles outlined in the TPP
will be a benchmark in the equally secretive US-EU trade talks for the
Trade and Investment Partnership) initiated in January 2013.
Current TPP negotiation member states are,
the United States