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Public Citizen Comments to USTR on Japan’s Participation in TPP Talks

By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

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Public Citizen welcomes the opportunity to comment on the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) stated intent to include Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit public interest organization with more than 300,000 members and supporters that champions citizen interests before Congress, the executive branch agencies and the courts. We have conducted extensive analysis on the economic impacts and implications of existing U.S. trade and investment agreements and the expansive model of trade and investment terms that the Obama administration has pursued in the TPP.

The concerns provoked by the proposed inclusion of Japan in the TPP are manifold, including the loss of the U.S. government’s prerogative to vet the export of liquefied natural gas to the world’s largest importer of the sensitive product, and the lack of a mechanism in the TPP to counterbalance currency manipulation. In these comments, we focus on another primary concern: Japan’s inclusion in the TPP would multiply the threat to the public interest posed by the deal’s extreme draft investor privileges provisions.

The investor-state dispute resolution (ISDR) mechanism included in the leaked draft TPP investment chapter would empower foreign investors to directly challenge sovereign governments over contested public interest policies in tribunals that operate completely outside any domestic legal system. The ostensible premise for the inclusion of such an extreme procedure and related substantive investor privileges is that some domestic legal systems are too corrupt, incompetent or ill-equipped to hear foreign investors’ claims, or that some countries’ property rights protections are considerably weaker than those found in U.S. law.