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The Trans-Pacific Partnership and water services, water protection


An expert paper on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by Tony Holman, Richard Northey and Jane Kelsey finds that the deal would have implications on water.

The authors note:

1 “The binding and enforceable rules of the TPP go further than any previous such agreement and will impose new constraints on local governments’ authority and autonomy to regulate and make decisions. Every local authority will have to comply with complex rules across many chapters, and decisions they make that impact adversely on foreign investors will potentially be open to challenge through the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism.”

2 “Investors from TPP countries will have the power to challenge local government decisions that damage their commercial interests, including disputed procurement or PPP [public private partnership] contracts, planning and consent processes, or blocking price increases for utilities like water or sanitation. …The contracting out of services, greater use of PPPs, including for water, and asset sales will intensify the exposure of local government to the TPP and heighten the risks of investor-state disputes over disputed contracts.”

3 “Water scarcity is a growing problem, heightened by global warming. The rationing of water on a market basis means human rights and social needs compete with and are subordinated to the interests of those with commercial power. Companies in New Zealand, including foreign owned agribusinesses, already hold rights to extract or use water for irrigation, which are valuable investments that can be protected in the investment chapter through ISDS.”

4 “Tradable water rights are financial instruments that are protected by the investment chapter against changes that negatively impact on their value, and are subject to the non-discrimination rules in the financial services chapter. A more extensive system of tradable water rights would therefore become locked in through the TPP.”

And a separate expert paper by Simon Terry concludes that:

5 “The environment [including water protection] is a significant casualty under the TPP. There is a gross asymmetry in the rights and means accorded organisations that would seek to protect the commons for the public good, and rights and means accorded foreign investors to protect private wealth. Adopting the lens of the foreign investor when making broad governance changes through the TPP has sidelined the opportunity to properly integrate management of the economy with management of other domains – such as the environment.”

The Council of Canadians is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

We have highlighted:

  • the deal’s investor-state dispute settlement provision

  • the job losses expected to come with it

  • the harm it would do to the auto parts sector

  • the Bovine Growth Hormone-tainted milk it would allow into Canada

  • the further exploitation of temporary foreign workers it would enable

  • the extended patent protection it would give to transnational corporations for expensive life-saving pharmaceuticals

  • the lack of transparency in its negotiation and now in its ratification process.

To tell the Canadian government you are opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, send your messages here.

For our campaign web-page on the TPP, please click here.