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Australia says no to investor rights to sue in leaked TPP

14 June 2012

Australia says no to investor rights to sue in leaked Trans-Pacific trade chapter, fair trade groups demand release of all text

“The leaked investment chapter of the Trans- Pacific trade agreement (TPPA) being negotiated between the US Australia, New Zealand and six other Pacific countries contains special rights for foreign investors to sue governments if a law or policy harms their investment," Dr Patricia Ranald, Convenor of the Australian Fair Trade and Investment network said today.

“However, the leaked chapter shows that Australian Government has kept to its policy and is refusing to apply the right of investors to sue governments for damages in Australia. We support the government's policy, but believe it would be more consistent if the government simply opposed the inclusion of this provision in the agreement,” said Dr Ranald.

“The right of investors to sue was excluded from the US Australia Free Trade Agreement, and more recently was not included in the Malaysia-Australian free trade agreement. We have long campaigned against this provision, because its inclusion in other agreements has allowed corporations to sue governments over health and environment legislation. The Australian Government's policy has been reinforced by its battle against the current attempt of Philip Morris tobacco company to sue the Australian government damages over its tobacco plain packaging legislation under the provisions of an obscure 1993 Hong Kong Australia investment agreement,” explained Dr Ranald.



“Overall, the leaked chapter still gives increased rights to foreign investors. It limits the ability of the government to regulate levels of foreign investment, and does not permit governments to require foreign investors to contribute to the local economy by buying local goods or transferring technology. The chapter applies to all forms and areas of investment, unless specifically exempted by each government. These restrictions could tie the hands of government to regulate in areas like foreign investment in farmland, the expansion of the coal seam gas industry, or in some areas of taxation,” explained Dr Ranald .

“These issues should be debated publicly, not secretly negotiated in trade agreements. Currently, the text of trade agreements is kept secret until it is signed by Cabinet, and only then released publicly and to Parliament. We call for the release the negotiating text of the agreement, and the release of the text of the whole agreement for public and Parliamentary debate before it is signed by Cabinet”, said Dr Ranald.

The TPP investment chapter can be found online at: http://tinyurl.com/tppinvestment

ENDS

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