Testimony by Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch Division on Investment Protections in U.S. Trade and Investment Agreements

Testimony of Todd Tucker, Research Director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch Division, Before the Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Trade

Posted: 5/14/2009

Todd Tucker, Research Director at Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division (GTW), submitted testimony (PDF) today to the Ways & Means Committee's Subcommittee on Trade regarding that body's Hearing on Investment Protections in U.S. Trade and Investment Agreements. The testimony begins:

I thank Committee Chairman Rangel, Subcommittee Chairman Levin, and the other members of the Ways & Means Committee for this opportunity to submit written testimony on behalf of Public Citizen for the record for the Hearing on Investment Protections in U.S. Trade and Investment Agreements. My testimony can be summarized with the following three points, elaborated in detail below:

  1. The record of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) demonstrates why removing harmful investment provisions from international agreements is in the interest of the United States and its trading partners. NAFTA’s investment chapter provides incentives to offshore jobs by removing many of the costs and risks of relocating production offshore. It also subjects U.S. environmental, consumer and other public-interest laws to challenge by foreign investors empowered to demand U.S. government compensation directly in foreign tribunals for domestic laws they deem to undermine their expected future profits. The investment chapter of the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) expanded on the definition of foreign investments that were provided special protections and rights. Instructions in the 2002 Fast Track – that U.S. trade agreements not provide greater rights to foreign investors than are provided to U.S. investors under the U.S. Constitution – have been systematically ignored by U.S. negotiators. As a result, CAFTA, various FTAs approved after CAFTA, and the three leftover Bush “Free Trade Agreements” (FTAs) all contain provisions that provide greater substantive and procedural rights to foreign investors. Not one word of the investment chapters of the FTAs was altered to remedy these problems in the May 2007 revisions to the Bush FTAs. The non-binding preambular language added to these agreements has no legal effect and fails to address the investment chapters’ problems.
  2. We support President Barack Obama’s campaign pledges to overhaul the investment provisions of U.S. trade agreements.
  3. In order for President Obama to fulfill these commitments, a set of specific changes must be made to current and prospective trade and investment agreements.

Read the full testimony (PDF).