Today's trade rules are not designed first and foremost to protect workers, the environment or public health. They are written by corporate lawyers and trade bureaucrats with no citizen input and very little congressional oversight. The rules designed to protect foreign investors and are written with an eye to safeguarding corporate profits. The agreements include a dispute resolution system that allows foreign corporations to sue governments when they feel that laws and regulations, including environmental protections, harm their investments. Since the establishment of this dispute resolution system in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), numerous cases have been brought forward that threaten the environment and public health. Right now, two cases pending under the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) endanger good environmental governance.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the first trade deal to be negotiated by the Obama Administration, presents an opportunity for reform. Considering the history of attacks on environmental protections brought about by bad trade rules, we must call on the Obama Administration to reform the rules in the TPP now and restore a balance between investor rights and the public interest