• Leaked dispute-settlement plan raises concerns

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    WASHINGTON D.C.: A leaked secret dispute-settlement provision of a pending US trade deal with Asia is raising concerns among nonprofit groups which say it favors big companies over governments.

    The classified document, released by WikiLeaks on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), deals with a controversial investor-state dispute settlement tool that is part of closed-door negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation free-trade agreement including Japan, Australia, Singapore and Vietnam.

    According to the January 20 dated document, the US-led negotiating parties want to establish investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) courts where foreign firms can sue states and obtain taxpayer compensation for expected future profits, overruling national court systems.

    ISDS tribunals are also part of the vast trade pact the US is negotiating with the European Union, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

    The cover page of the leaked document said the document “is supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.”

    Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, said the leaked document shows that the TPP would open up the United States to huge liability claims.

    AFP

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