ttip logoTheresa forwarded news of an appeal to publicise the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between Europe and the USA, which is being negotiated in secret with the EU by the White House.

America is also attempting to introduce another trade treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership with Asia (TPP). Together, these treaties would encompass most of the rich world – currently excluding China and Russia.

They fear that – if agreed – TTIP would downgrade rights and regulations to US levels and allow companies to sue governments over policy changes, making it far more difficult for the UK government to reverse NHS privatisation and ban fracking.

Who is involved?

Wealthy multinational companies and organisations lobbying governments on the subject include Toyota , General Motors , the pharmaceutical industry, Business Europe, IBM, Food and Drink Europe, EuropaBio and the powerful US Chamber of Commerce.

Less well-heeled analysts assert that powers would be removed from elected domestic governments, limiting food safety, environmental standards, financial regulation, energy and climate policy, establishing further legal powers and commercial opportunities for corporations.

Hard evidence

wikileaks graphicA draft chapter of the TTIP, which concerns issues relating to food safety and animal and plant health, was ‘wiki-leaked’ recently. The text supports no requirement for port of entry food inspections and testing – the U.S. approach – meaning that food contamination outbreaks will be harder to trace to their origin, and liability harder to assess. Such a trade agreement could make it more difficult to restrict imports from countries with animal or plant diseases, such as BSE or plant fungus outbreaks.

A proposal for a legal mechanism to protect corporate investors against citizens and national governments

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership proposals include a mechanism called the investor-state dispute settlement. When included in trade agreements, this mechanism (see ICSID precedent) has allowed corporations to sue governments before arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers, which bypass domestic courts and override the will of parliaments.

Christopher Caldwell, an American journalist who regularly contributes to the Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal, reports that these negotiations are failing on both fronts.

Just as well?

sierra ttip contents

Readers are asked to contact their local papers to focus attention on the subject. Those who would like to learn more may go to the Sierra Club’s report – contents above.