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The United States and the world are engaged in a great debate about new trade agreements. Such pacts used to be called "free-trade agreements;" in fact, they were managed trade agreements, tailored to corporate interests, largely in the U.S. and the European Union. Today, such deals are more often referred to as "partnerships," as in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But they are not partnerships of equals: The U.S. effectively dictates the terms. Fortunately, America's "partners" are becoming increasingly resistant.Nonetheless, the U.S. is demanding such provisions in the TPP, even though many of its "partners" have property protections and judicial systems that are as good as its own.The real intent of these provisions is to impede health, environmental, safety and, yes, even financial regulations meant to protect America's own economy and citizens. American supporters of such agreements point out that the U.S. has been sued only a few times so far, and has not lost a case. Corporations, however, are just learning how to use these agreements to their advantage.And high-priced corporate lawyers in the U.S., Europe, and Japan will likely outmatch the underpaid government lawyers attempting to defend the public interest.
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