While the need for business insight as part of trade talks is understandable, the two-tier approach raises serious concerns about the lack of transparency.
As the future of the proposed Canada - European Union Trade Agreement becomes increasingly uncertain – the EU has been unwilling to compromise on the remaining contentious issues leaving the Canadian government with a deal that offers limited benefits and significant costs – the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) is likely to emerge as the government’s new top trade priority.
The TPP has rapidly become of the world’s most significant trade negotiations, with participants that include the United States, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Japan, and Canada. There is a veil of secrecy associated with the TPP, however, as participants are required to sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition of entry into the talks. Despite those efforts, there have been occasional leaks of draft text that indicate the deal could require major changes to Canadian rules on investment, intellectual property, cultural protection, procurement, and agriculture.
In the old days, back in the 20th Century, most discussions on unfair trade focused on how World Trade Organization (WTO) rules and corporate monopolies placed Third World countries and their people at a severe and unfair disadvantage. It was assumed the bad guys, those who profited, were us, via our governments. After all, those big corporations making enormous profits at the expense of poor and hungry people in the Global South all had their head offices in rich countries – and so must be ours.
But they really aren’t, are they? Whether it’s the way big corporations now constantly outsource to the cheapest location, use tax havens to avoid paying taxes, or play regions off against one another, multinationals show no allegiance to countries or communities.
Why are Public Inquiries into various kinds of wrongdoing undertaken? What's ahead for the proposed NDP (to be established) Public Inquiry into the BC Rail Scandal?
Pitting different groups against one another and encouraging an “us versus them” mentality is popular in Canada. People who are concerned about the impact of resource development on the environment are criticized as anti-oilsands or anti-Albertan, as are people who criticize the way those resources are sold. Meanwhile, the advocates of resource development are themselves criticized as not caring about the environment, or only caring about their own personal interests.
Unconventional drilling for gas ('Fracking') is the basis of the on-going 'Fracking Wars'. Canada is deep into the wars as pollution from the activity grows and governments (in the pockets of large corporations) try to "live a life of denial" and prevent research into the real state of things.
In March, the Canadian government introduced a bill that would bring about sweeping changes to its copyright and trademark laws. This includes giving more power to customs and border protection agents without any judicial oversight. The move is intended to prevent counterfeit goods from entering the country, but has been criticized for being less about protecting Canadians and more about caving to American demands. With the U.S. dictating global intellectual property standards, the new legislation represents the return of ACTA and would pave the way for Canada to ratify the controversial international treaty.
ACTA is part of the international agenda of patent, trademark and copyright lobbies. The agreement favours big businesses over individual innovators and creators. It was designed to protect the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of fundamental civil rights. ACTA is being used by the U.S. to pressure other countries into adopting a new global standard for intellectual property enforcement. The supranational treaty would impose draconian laws which threaten the sovereignty of member nations.
A proposal to charge travellers a fee for entering the U.S. by land has sparked anger in both countries, with opponents citing fears it will hinder border crossings and hurt the economy.
The proposal to study the new fee is included in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2014 budget.
In its proposal, the department urges a study examining the effect of collecting a crossing fee for both pedestrians and passenger vehicles along the Canadian and Mexican borders. Proponents say the fee is being considered as a way to cover increasing security costs.
Other countries ditch free-trade orthodoxy to protect jobs. But not Canada.
Free trade is now orthodoxy in Canada. It used to be debated fiercely. It no longer is.
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives embrace free trade. So does Justin Trudeau, the new Liberal leader.
As part of their ongoing effort to pretend that they are not New Democrats, so do Tom Mulcair’s New Democrats.
Ironically, all of this has occurred at precisely the time when events demonstrate that free trade deals don’t work as advertised.
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U.S. Pharmaceutical Corporation Uses NAFTA Foreign Investor Privileges to Attack Canada’s Patent Policy
In December we reported that Eli Lilly, the fifth-largest U.S. pharmaceutical corporation, had announced its intent to use the extreme foreign investor privileges enshrined in NAFTA to directly challenge Canada's entire basis for granting patents. Eli Lilly's audacious attempt, sparked by Canadian courts' invalidation of an Eli Lilly medicine patent, marks the first time a patent-holding pharmaceutical corporation has tried to use the extraordinary investor privileges provided by U.S. “free trade” agreements (FTAs) as a tool to push for greater monopoly patent protections, which increase the cost of medicines for consumers and governments. Because Canada has dared to enforce its own patent policy, Eli Lilly is demanding $100 million in compensation from Canadian taxpayers.
NAFTA challenge to fracking ban reason to avoid investor-state dispute settlement: Australian trade minister
The recent NAFTA investor lawsuit against Quebec’s moratorium on shale gas development (fracking) is cited by Australia’s trade minister as a reason to avoid including these excessive investor rights in trade deals. (Funny, we say the same thing in a recent fact sheet on how Free Trade is Fracking with our Future.)
read full article http://canadians.org/blog/?p=20342