Kaine will stand with Clinton on TPP opposition

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Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says he is locked in his opposition to a sweeping Pacific trade agreement with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The 58-year-old said he can’t support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement over concerns that the deal provides foreign companies with the ability to change U.S. laws and regulations. 

{mosads}Kaine, who supported fast-track authority for trade a year ago, came out against the TPP last weekend after Clinton announced him as her vice presidential pick.

“I am supporting her position on TPP,” Kaine told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an interview. 

Clinton, who advocated for the TPP while she was secretary of State, reversed course after the pact was completed in October. 

“With respect to the particulars, I voted last year for the trade promotion authority bill to give the president the ability to negotiate the best deal possible, but I said at the time that I was going to be looking at the ultimate deal very carefully, and I laid out a couple of concerns that I had that I was very concerned about,” Kaine said.

Kaine’s main concern centers on the investor-state dispute settlement process.

He is worried that under the TPP, foreign companies have more power to file trade cases against the U.S. government for unfair trade practices while other groups such as labor unions lack that ability with the nation’s trading partners. 

“I’ve raised it repeatedly, and I’ve yet to get any sensible answer about why you would have a provision such as that,” Kaine said. “So I cannot vote for a treaty that has that kind of exclusive, company-only provision.”

The White House has battled with Democrats such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) over the intent of the investment provisions in trade agreements, saying that they also are designed to protect the interests of U.S. companies overseas. 

“If a company feels like a government action is an unfair trading practice, they can go to a secret court and file a massive claim against the government’s action,” Kaine said. 

Top Obama administration officials have argued that the system does not undermine U.S. sovereignty, allow for changes U.S. laws or regulations or give multinational companies any new rights.

In their pitch for Congress to pass the TPP, administration officials have insisted that the Pacific agreement has been carefully crafted to preserve the rights of governments to set their own regulations, keep any abuse of the dispute process to a minimum and ensure that  U.S. corporations facing unfair trade practices in other countries get a fair hearing.

During the presidential campaigns, Democrats and Republicans have vigorously attacked investor-state dispute resolution, arguing that process would allow foreign companies to swoop in and change laws that hurt their business in the United States. 

Tags Elizabeth Warren Hillary Clinton Investor-state dispute settlement Tim Kaine Trans-Pacific Partnership
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