Extract from “The TPPA: Trading human rights?”

Where are the safeguards?

The government has not done a human rights impact assessments despite calls by various activists and civil society groups including Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah, former Commissioner of SUHAKAM, to do the same.

MITI tries to allay our fears by saying that the TPPA is only one of the numerous bilateral and free trade agreements that Malaysia has already signed. But they leave out the fact that the scope of protected investments which are enforceable is far wider than in any of Malaysia’s previous trade agreements and that the US, the most litigious nation in the world, is a party for the first time.

Further, despite what MITI would have us believe, the “safeguards” within the TPPA on health, environment and labour are unenforceable. Meaning, should the investor be guilty of offences in these areas, our government cannot file claims against them under the TPPA. What we will have though, is a Renco situation, as described above.

Then there is the issue of the Most Favoured Nation Clause. Known as the wipe out clause, it allows foreign investors from TPP states to make a claim against Malaysia based on the ISDS provisions in any other trade deal Malaysia has signed, no matter which country it was signed with. So no matter how cleverly and carefully drafted the TPPA is, we are only as protected as the most retrogressive trade agreement that we’ve entered into.

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