Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Treaty: State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Issues for Ministerial Guidance
Today, 29 July 2015, WikiLeaks releases a secret letter from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP or TPPA) Ministerial Meeting in December 2013, along with a comprehensive expert analysis of the document.
The letter indicates a wide-ranging privatisation and globalisation strategy within the Agreement which aims to severely restrict “state-owned enterprises” (SOEs). Even an SOE that exists to fulfil a public function neglected by the market or which is a natural monopoly would nevertheless be forced to act “on the basis of commercial considerations” and would be prohibited from discriminating in favour of local businesses in purchases and sales. Foreign companies would be given standing to sue SOEs in domestic courts for perceived departures from the strictures of the TPP, and countries could even be sued by other TPP countries, or by private companies from those countries. Developing countries such as Vietnam, which employs a large number of SOEs as part of its economic infrastructure, would be affected most. SOEs continue to fulfil vital public functions in even the most privatised countries, such as Canada and Australia.
The TPP is the world’s largest economic trade agreement and will, if it comes into force, encompass more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. Despite its wide-ranging effects on the global population, the TPP is currently being negotiated in total secrecy by 12 countries. Few people, even within the negotiating countries’ governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement, and the public – who it will affect most – none at all. Large corporations, however, are able to see portions of the text, generating a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups and bringing developing countries reduced force, while the public at large gets no say.
The TPP is part of the TPP-TISA-TTIP mega-treaty package, which together proposes to encompass more than two-thirds of global GDP.
WikiLeaks’ editor, Julian Assange, said: “The TPP erects a ‘one size fits all’ economic system designed to advantage the largest transnational corporations. In this leak we see the radical effects the TPP will have, not only on developing countries, but on states very close to the centre of the Western system. If we are to restructure our societies into an ultra-neoliberal legal and economic bloc that will last for the next 50 years then this should be said openly and debated.”