Simon: What is the likelihood that an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism will be included in the TPP? Is USTR pushing for it to be included?
USTR: We are consulting very closely with Congress and other stakeholders to ensure that we have the broadest possible input as we determine our negotiating objectives. In our prior free trade agreement negotiations, the inclusion of an investor-State dispute settlement mechanism has been a priority, consistent with the negotiating objectives in the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002. This mechanism provides a critical protection for U.S. investors abroad by establishing a neutral, international forum to challenge arbitrary, unfair, or corrupt foreign government actions. It also provides for transparency and public participation, including participation by non-governmental organizations.
So does their response give us any insight on whether investor-state will be included in the TPP? Let me parse the words of their answer and engage in some unjustified speculation.
Things that suggest inclusion:
-- it was a "priority" in prior FTAs-- it provides "critical protection" for U.S. investors abroad
Things that suggest it won't be included:
-- its inclusion in prior FTAs was related to trade negotiating objectives from 2002, which have since been modified, and apparently have not yet been determined for the TPP
-- they are still looking for input, which suggests that the status quo (inclusion of investor-state) is not set in stone
-- there is no mention of the impact of investor-state on domestic regulations, which many people view as a negative aspect of investor-state (or does not mentioning this point suggest they want to downplay it in order to justify the inclusion of investor-state?)
On balance, the conclusion I draw from all this is: We're going to have wait for some actual evidence.
Finally, let me just say that I think this was a great initiative by USTR, and I was pleased to see this statement: "As the negotiations proceed, we plan to hold additional webchats ..." So start preparing your questions now!