Green advocates eye free-trade talks warily
As they get a clearer picture of the Bush Administration’s positions in free-trade talks, environmental groups are expressing concern that accords with Chile and other countries will lack adequate green safeguards.
The administration had not made its negotiating positions public as of early this month, but it has dropped hints in letters to Congress, background meetings and leaks to the media.
A key issue is what investor-protection regimen it favors. Green groups charge guarantees in Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement allow foreign investors to use international arbitration to bully host nations into rolling back environmental regulations.
They point to a $970 million Chapter 11 claim that Methanex, a Canadian gasoline-additive manufacturer, filed against the United States over California’s plans to phase out the additive MTBE in a bid to stem groundwater pollution. They also cite a $16.7 million Chapter 11 judgment that the U.S. company Metalclad won against Mexico over local Mexican authorities’ refusal to allow a Metalclad toxic-waste-disposal facility to be built in San Luis Potosí state.
Limits on investor suits?