Excerpt from: CREDO Action
Have you heard of the China Bilateral Investment Treaty (China BIT)? If you’re like most people, you haven’t. And there’s a reason for that.
Described by one trade expert as “more secretive than the TPP,” the China BIT is the latest in a series of corporate-sponsored, closed-door-negotiations trade deals that threaten to essentially give veto power over our own domestic laws and protections to foreign corporations, while exporting American jobs overseas.1
This is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) all over again – a trade deal that’s come under major fire for giving away America’s jobs and consumer and worker protections – but negotiated directly with a country that’s perhaps the most notorious in the world for its own human rights violations, repression of free speech, and anti-democratic crackdowns.
The activism of CREDO members, along with our friends in the labor and progressive community, over the past year has put enormous pressure on TPP, and its passage through Congress is in question. We can help generate the same pushback against the China BIT, but only if we speak out and lay the groundwork right now. While the Obama administration continues its secretive, behind-the-scenes negotiations, we need to make a very public statement to the U.S. Senate that this deal must be dead on arrival.
Despite the tortured arguments we’ll hear from its supporters about why the China BIT should be ratified, treaties like the China BIT are gifts to multinational corporations, hedge funds, and private equity firms, and they have little to do with stimulating the economy for average Americans.
In fact, the China BIT would have the opposite effect. America’s judicial and regulatory systems and our respect for the rule of law are powerful incentives for keeping American companies, and American jobs, here at home. But with treaties like the China BIT and TPP, corporations would be allowed to challenge laws or settle legal matters in foreign countries through extra-judicial tribunals.2
With that power, corporations would have the freedom to freely move jobs and operations to countries with much lower wages, and fewer worker protections and regulations, with much less risk to their profits. And what do we get in return? The ability for foreign corporations –many of them state-owned in the case of China – the ability to challenge our own laws, protections, and regulations through those very same tribunals.
Supporters of the agreement argue that the China BIT would promote more foreign investment in America, but that ignores the fact that America already attracts more foreign investment than any other country in the world3 – much of it from countries who have no special ability to challenge and overturn American laws and regulations. Furthermore, the China BIT itself undercuts one of the main arguments for passing TPP: That it’s a necessary and strategic counterweight to China’s growing economic influence.
It’s clear that the arguments for passing deals like TPP and the China BIT are just a cover for what we know they’re really about: Giving corporations and investment firms increasing power to pump up their profits at the expense of American workers, the economy, and the regulations and protections that keep us safe.
Once the administration agrees on a deal, it’s up to the U.S. Senate to ratify it. But we can step in and put the Senate on notice right now that, just like with the TPP, a major fight awaits anyone willing to give a pass to secretive, pro-corporate deals like the China BIT.
- Tell the U.S. Senate:
“Reject the China Bilateral Investment Treaty. Say no to corporate trade deals that kill American jobs and give corporations veto power over domestic laws.”
- Go to the below to sign the petition:
Thank you for your activism.
Murshed Zaheed, Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
David Dayen, “The Job-Killing Trade Deal You’ve Never Heard Of: The China Bilateral Investment Treaty,” The American Prospect, March 18, 2016.
Elizabeth Warren, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose,” The Washington Post, February 25, 2015.
“List of countries by received FDI,” Wikipedia.
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