Sanders Says Secretive Legal Exemptions in Trade Deal ‘Alarming’

WASHINGTON, April 1 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, warned today that a proposed trade agreement appears to give other nations a dangerous legal advantage that could jeopardize America’s national security.

Sanders said that newly released documents seem to show that the secretive trade deal among North American and Asian countries could be risky for U.S. interests and businesses. The leaked documents show a draft of the trade agreement that has so far been hidden from the public and Congress.

“If this draft is correct, I worry that the Trans Pacific Partnership will allow foreign companies who invest in this country to challenge our national security decisions if they don’t like the outcome,” Sanders said. “That means if we block foreigners from buying ports, banks, parts of our electrical grid or other infrastructure due to national security concerns, these foreign investors can go to an international tribunal to seek compensation. The draft agreement reveals for the first time that four countries refused to give in on that front. I want to know why other countries opt out of this out of national security concerns and we aren’t. That's why the rest of the agreement needs to become public, so we can see whether it jeopardizes our national security and sovereignty.”

Under current law, the U.S. reviews foreign purchases of domestic businesses through a process led by The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. According to the leaked draft of the pending trade deal, Australia, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand all appear to have been granted authority to shield purchases of their assets from being challenged by foreign investors.

Effectively, the U.S. has given up one of its strongest tools to guide investment in this country by foreign companies – an issue that became a flash point when the United Arab Emirates sought to buy six major U.S. shipping ports. 

Sanders has consistently warned that this new trade proposal will mirror previous agreements that ended up costing U.S. jobs and encouraged American companies to move more operations overseas.