15 May 2015

Senior parliamentarians from five countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have signed an open letter urging their political leaders to protect their nations’ sovereignty from the United States’ process of certification.

The signatories from Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, and New Zealand include prominent former parliamentarians as well as current leaders of political parties, spokespersons for trade, and members of committees with responsibility for the TPP.

Their letter voices ‘grave concern’ that US governments have required parties to previous free trade agreements to change their laws, regulations and procedures to meet the US interpretation of those countries’ obligations before the US allows the agreement to come into force.

‘If applied to the TPP, this practice would infringe on the sovereignty of our governments to determine the meaning and extent of the obligations they have agreed to and adopted under the TPP; it would impugn the constitutional authority and responsibility of legislatures and lawmakers; and it would constitute interference by a foreign government in the sovereignty of our countries.’

The Ministers of Trade from the twelve participating countries are expected to convene in Guam from 26 to 28 May, where they have said they hope to conclude the negotiations.

The parliamentarians have urged their governments to that ensure any final TPP effectively protects their nation’s sovereign lawmaking authority from such external influence, and affirms the constitutional right of legislatures to decide whether the government has taken the necessary steps to comply with the agreement. Any challenge to compliance should be pursued after the Agreement comes into force by using the dispute settlement processes mandated in the treaty.

The website www.tppnocertification.org explains how the US has applied the certification process in recent years, including case studies of the Peru and Australia free trade agreements.

You can read the letter here.