Trade negotiators are increasingly unwilling to entertain "corporate sovereignty" clauses

One of the most repugnant features of international trade agreements, from TPP to TTIP to CETA, is the "Investor State Dispute Settlement" (ISDS) clause, which gives corporations the power to sue governments to repeal health, safety, and environmental laws if they interfere with the company's profits.

Trade agreements are generally conducted under a cloak of absolute (and even farcical and Orwellian) secrecy, available only to government negotiators — and corporate lobbyists (seriously) (no, worse than that), who often see their wish-lists literally pasted into the text of trade agreements.

The result is that, for example, Chinese corporations get to wriggle out of lawsuits over the sale of unsafe products that harm American consumers.

Apparently the world has had just about enough of this dirty "corporate sovereignty"; it has been substantially weakened in the new US-Mexico NAFTA negotiations, and the Asian Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is also gutting ISDSes.

Of course, poor, weak, corporate-dominated Canada is still mired in this garbage, with ISDSes front-and-centre in the agreements it struck with the EU and China and the resurgent TPP.

The new US thinking places Canada in a tricky position because the latter is involved in several trade deals, which take different approaches to corporate sovereignty. As well as the US-dominated NAFTA, there is CETA, the trade deal with Europe. For that, Canada is acquiescing to the EU's request to replace ISDS with the new Investment Court System (ICS). In TPP, however — still lumbering on, despite the US withdrawal — Canada seems to be going along with the traditional corporate sovereignty approach.

Corporate Sovereignty On The Wane, As Governments Realize It's More Trouble Than It's Worth [Glyn Moody/Techdirt]