International tribunals shouldn’t override U.S. banking lawsJune 14, 2012
Regular readers of this blog know that I tend to be a big suppoter of President Obama, but a story posted by The Huffington Post yesterday has my blood running cold. Public Citizen, a non-profit watchdog group, has reportedly gotten its collective hands on a leaked document from the Obama Administration’s trade negotiations with the Trans-Pacific Partnership of eight Pacific nations. According to The Huffington Post, the leaked document demonstrates that the Obama Administration has agreed to allow foreign corporations to challenge U.S. banking, environmental, public safety and other laws before an international tribunal. Should it find in favor of the foreign challenger, the tribunal could override U.S. law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its decisions. Oh, and it’s not as though the tribunal would necessarily be unbiased. Public Citizen is quoted as saying that “‘the tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers that rotate between acting as “judges” and as advocates for the investors suing the governments.'” That sounds an awful lot like “the foxes will be guarding the henhouse” to me, which could open the U.S. investment market to a cavalcade of essentially unregulated foreign investors.
Didn’t we learn anything from the meltdown on Wall Street four years ago?
Apparently, the appeal of this proposal is that it would allow U.S. companies to challenge similarly the local laws of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries. That undoubtedly sounds just dandy to corporate pirates who can’t wait to get unfettered access to rape and pillage (metaphorically, of course) in foreign financial markets without concerns about the local constabulary, but they really should think again. Their companies would be bound at home by U.S. laws their foreign competitors could sidestep, and it’s not hard to imagine how U.S. investment firms could lose their Stateside while chasing after will-o’-the-wisp opportunities abroad.
I’m a great believer in greater international understanding, cooperation and trade, but this is not the way to go about it. What bothers me most is the secrecy swathing these negotiations. Congress has reportedly been kept in the dark, and the story is complex enough that it hasn’t had much play in our “news as entertainment” media. (After all, Miley Cyrus is newly engaged – what more could anyone possibly want to know?) I can’t cite this as a reason to vote against President Obama in November because Mitt Romney also reportedly supports the deal, so we’re likely to get it no matter who wins the White House. Still, I think it would be a profound mistake to allow an international tribunal to override U.S. laws for the benefit of foreign investors. Mr. President, please reconsider.
To read the Huffington Post article, click here.
This entry was posted in business communications, Business Ethics, corporate responsibility, Lauren Recommends, Presidential Campaign, Social Ethics. Bookmark the permalink. ← Will Governor Walker’s victory dishearten Wisconsin’s civil servants? For $25, you can be a business angel! →