How could foreign corporations attack domestic health, environmental and financial protections that local companies have to follow? The TPP would give foreign firms special privileges, including the ability to challenge new policies – from Wall Street regulations to climate change protections – because they frustrated the corporations' "expectations."
The TPP would also grant these privileges to U.S. firms that offshore American jobs. The deal's special protections for foreign corporations would eliminate many of the usual risks that make firms think twice about moving to low-wage countries, incentivizing a new wave of offshoring.
The TPP's privileges for foreign firms would also spur a new wave of corporate cases against U.S. laws, to be decided by tribunals of three private lawyers unaccountable to any electorate. In cases already launched under this "investor-state" system, such lawyers have rotated between serving as "judges" and bringing cases for corporations against governments. They are not bound by precedent or the opinions of governments, and there is no outside appeal to their rulings.
If a tribunal rules against a challenged policy, there is no limit to the amount of taxpayer money it can order the government to pay the foreign corporation. The amount is based on the "expected future profits" the tribunal surmises that the corporation would have earned in the absence of the public policy it is attacking. Under existing U.S. pacts, tribunals have ordered more than $3.6 billion in taxpayer compensation to foreign firms, and more than $38 billion is pending.
While this shadow legal system for foreign corporations has been around since the 1960s, just 50 known cases were launched in the regime’s first three decades combined. In contrast, corporations have launched more than 50 claims in each of the last three years.
Instead of decreasing our exposure to this surge of corporate attacks, the TPP would expose our laws and tax dollars to attacks from more foreign corporations than any previous U.S. "trade" deal. Corporations in TPP countries own more than 16,000 firms in the United States, any one of which could serve as the basis for a challenge to the policies that keep our economy stable and our society healthy.