“The United States of America is pursuing controversial trade deals with both the EU and the Pacific Rim countries. But just why are these treaties being pushed through in suspicious haste and shrouded in secrecy?”
What is the TTIP?
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or ‘TTIP’, is an amalgamation of international agreements currently being negotiated by the European Union and the United States of America. It claims to pertain to the dismantling of trade barriers. The reality, however, is that there are very few trade barriers remaining between these two great blocs.
So what exactly will it address?
It aims to establish common regulation to fit both the European and American markets. Today, a company operating in Europe and America must tweak its product in order to conform to two differing sets of regulation. This process is expensive for multi-national corporations, which is why they are lobbying the TTIP negotiators. This trade deal is their effort to minimise – even eliminate – these differences in regulation.
But what kind of regulation would it seek to alter?
This eradication of differences in regulation essentially equates to the removal of EU safeguards regarding: product safety, consumer rights, food quality, labour rights and environmental protections.
So then what are the dangers of the TTIP?
Given the economic and political power of America’s multi-national corporations, the negotiation process will undoubtedly unfold as a “race to the bottom”, with the likely outcome forcing European submission to a system of American-standard regulation which would, of course, offer far less protection than our incumbent safeguards.
In the USA, for example, hormone-injected meat, cloned cattle, chlorinated chicken and genetic engineering are all common place. Each of these processes is currently outlawed by European law, but this be overturned with the ratification of the TTIP.
That explains the suspiciously secretive negotiations then, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, it gets worse. Even more galling is the introduction of the Investor-State Dispute System (ISDS), a judicial system through which corporations are able to prosecute against governmental action that detrimentally affects corporate profits. The jury is composed of corporate lawyers, there is no public gallery nor independent representatives, no judicial review nor right of appeal. How very democratic.
How do we know about this?
Well, ISDS already exists courtesy of trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The governments of Canada, Australia and El Salvador have all been sued for introducing regulation to protect their citizens and environments on the basis that such efforts have negatively impacted the profits of certain corporations.
In Quebec, for example, where a referendum saw the extraction of shale gas outlawed, a fracking company was able to sue the Canadian government for $250million in lost anticipated profit. In Australia, Phillip Morris Tobacco is suing the government for $10billion in anticipated profits lost due to laws requiring plain packaging for cigarettes.
Worse still is the case brought before El Salvador where a mining company, that had been shutdown for poisoning the local water supply, was able to sue the government for $100million – or one half of the Central American nation’s annual budget!
In short then, the TTIP would render it impossible – even illegal – for a corporation not to be profitable. Nobody wants this dodgy agreement, nobody voted for it, and nobody could think it acceptable for governments to be prosecuted for protecting their citizens. This “free trade agreement” is a direct attack on democracy, and it must be opposed.
Please sign this petition to register your opposition to the TTIP.