Obama Seeks New Corporate Powers in Trade Pact
US corporations would be able to challenge foreign laws: memos
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2013 6:08 PM CST
In this Dec. 4, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(Newser) – The Obama administration is trying to grant US corporations formidable new powers in a trade pact with 11 other countries—including the ability to challenge laws and regulations abroad. In memos obtained by the Huffington Post (see them here and here) the US is also pressing other members of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership to let Big Pharma maintain long-term monopolies on new drugs, which critics warn would increase drug prices. What's more, the US is seeking to stop government health services in countries like Australia and New Zealand from negotiating lower drug prices.

HuffPo describes the attempt to empower US corporations as "one of the most controversial provisions in the talks." The US has granted corporations the ability to challenge foreign laws before—in the North American Free Trade Agreement—but here the range of laws appears far greater. "Only the US and Japan support the proposal," a memo reads. The Obama administration is also seeking to kill a banking regulation called "capital controls," which enables foreign governments to stem or prevent banking crises. "The positions are still paralyzed," reads one of the memos. "The United States shows zero flexibility."