Scoop | Tuesday, 5 February 2008
Press Release: Green Party
Investmt treaty threat to sovereignty, environment
Investment treaty a threat to sovereignty and environmental standards
The Green Party is calling on Labour to halt discussions on an investment treaty because of the threat the treaty poses to our sovereignty and our environmental standards.
This follows the announcement today that the United States is seriously considering joining negotiations about an investment treaty between the P4 treaty partners of New Zealand, Chile, Singapore and Brunei.
“Investment treaties are the most dangerous parts of free trade agreements. They threaten our sovereignty and our environmental standards,” says Dr. Russel Norman, Green Co-leader and Trade Spokesperson.
“Investment treaties mean that corporations can sue governments if those governments pass laws that reduce the value of a corporation’s investment or future profits.
“If, for example, the New Zealand Government were to pass a law that improved pollution emission standards, with the result that a piece of industrial plant could no longer operate because it couldn’t meet the standards, the corporation that owned that plant could sue the government for the loss of its investment.
“This has already happened in Canada and Mexico under the investment provisions of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“Under the investment chapter of NAFTA, a US corporation, Metalclad, successfully sued the Mexican Government after Metalclad was blocked from building a toxic waste dump on a community water supply. Metalclad said their investment and future profits had been detrimentally affected.
“The Canadian Government was forced to back down on its ban on the sale of a toxic fuel additive, MMT, because the corporation that manufactured the additive, Ethyl Corp, took at US$250m case against the Canadian Government under the investment provisions of NAFTA. Ethyl claimed that by banning the additive the Canadian Government was seizing its assets - its future profits.
“The world stood up against the Multilateral Investment Agreement (MAI) and stopped it. So now neo-liberal governments around the world are trying to achieve an MAI though the backdoor of bilateral and smaller scale investment agreements.
“Investment treaties threaten our right to regulate environmental standards and should not proceed.”