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Son of ACTA pours fuel on IP trade fire

Leaked Transatlantic treaty text suggests USA wants in on Europe's energy supply

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Activists are mobilising against another international trade treaty, with the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) negotiations between America and the EU starting to cause angst.

Negotiating texts of the treaty began leaking earlier this year, and that has given policy analysts time to look under the skin of what's proposed – and consequently has led to fears that TTIP resembles ACTA shambling out of its grave and yelling for brains.

The newest of the leak analyses has come from grassroots environmental movement the Sierra Club, which has examined the leaked environmental chapter obtained by the Huffington Post (PDF here).

The Sierra Club says the chapter's aims seem to be expanding fossil fuel exports from America to the EU, limiting governments' ability to set energy policy, and restrict local renewable energy programs.

For example, it says the treaty negotiating text currently stipulates that “natural gas exports from the U.S. to the EU would be automatically deemed in the public interest and export licenses automatically granted”.

Another article, C(2), the Sierra Club believes, would end the current ban on crude oil exports from the US, which would increase demand for shale oil resources in America while simultaneously delivering “windfall” profits to oil producers.

On renewables policy, the Sierra Club accuses the treaty text of paying only lip service to countries' right to set renewable targets, saying that the negotiating text contains provisions relating to “necessity tests” that have already been the basis of challenges in the WTO to public health and environmental regulations.

An earlier leak of the Trade in Services, Investment and E-Commerce chapter (on Scribd here) is also causing rising controversy.

Like the TPP currently under negotiation and the abandoned ACTA, the TTIP is controversial for promoting investor-state dispute settlement provisions, and the secrecy of the negotiations means concerns also exist about the treaty's likely intellectual property provisions.

However, the European Commission has said that it intends there to be no harmonisation between US and EU intellectual property laws. On investor-state dispute provisions, it states that countries can still pass their own legislation: “at most, it can lead to compensation being paid”. ®

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