September 19, 2017

Warren Urges U.S. Trade Rep to Remove ISDS Provisions During Next Round of NAFTA Negotiations

Letter Comes Days Before Negotiations Continue in Ottawa This Weekend

Text of the letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), today wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, urging him to push for the removal of investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS) provisions as he renegotiates the terms for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These provisions give multi-national corporations special rights to challenge American laws in corporate courts without ever stepping foot in the United States.

ISDS allows corporations to be "given a free pass to ignore our rules and bypass our courts - a privilege not extended to the millions of Americans living in this country," wrote Senator Warren. "This puts American taxpayers on the hook for potentially massive payouts to these companies based on the decision of a panel of arbitrators - often corporate lawyers serving in the role part-time.  ISDS provides a huge handout to global corporations while undermining American sovereignty."

Despite promises from President Trump to "get a much better deal for our workers" in renegotiating NAFTA, and Ambassador Lighthizer's own record of concerns over ISDS provisions, recent reports indicate he has suggested keeping them in NAFTA with minor tweaks, requiring countries to opt-in to the system.  Maintaining these provisions will continue to allow American companies to challenge laws that cost them money through these special courts, while forcing ordinary Americans and other groups such as labor unions and environmental groups to go through foreign courts.

"If the Trump Administration wants to prove that it ‘will protect...and fight' for working families, you should start by scrapping the corporate courts that give multi-national companies special treatment while stiffing American workers," wrote Senator Warren ahead of the upcoming third round of talks, set to begin Saturday, September 23rd. "I urge you to keep this Administration's commitment to working families by pushing for the removal of ISDS from NAFTA in the upcoming rounds of renegotiation."

Senator Warren has been a leading opponent of ISDS, fighting against its inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and remains committed to removing it from other international trade agreements.