Archives for posts with tag: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

A verbal sparring match between the Birmingham Press’ independent Steve Beauchampé and Rachel Sylvester in the Murdoch Times would be well worth turning out for.

Welfare and workers’ rights – so yesterday

Ms Sylvester, working to diminish members’ increasing support for the Labour leader, evident in the recent YouGov poll, sees Mr Corbyn merely “trotting out old arguments about the importance of immigration, welfare and workers’ rights, apparently oblivious to the way in which public opinion has shifted in the last 40 years. . . “ and smears: “There is no sense of passion, more a suspicion that he sees the EU as a capitalist conspiracy against the masses but is nervous of saying so”.

Beauchampé has a different perspective, pointing to David Cameron’s dismissal of many elements of EU law that make a tangible, positive impact on the daily lives of British citizens, “such as crucial environmental legislation, consumer protection laws, the working time directive, social chapter, maternity leave and necessary health and safety legislation.

He adds that the PM’s willingness last autumn to negotiate away British workers EU employment rights, sets the Tory ‘Remain’ vision of Europe decisively at odds with that of Labour, the Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party.

Ms Sylvester damns Cameron with faint praise – Murdoch apparently backing Boris: “Having conceded a referendum in order to appease his rightwingers, and mounted a bogus negotiation in an attempt to hold the Tories together, (Cameron) has now moved beyond the partisan bickering to put a statesmanlike case for Britain’s membership of the European Union”.

Beauchampe goes to the heart of the matter:

  • “Cameron should have focussed instead on transferring more power to the democratically elected (and by proportional representation) European Parliament, simultaneously reducing the authority of the unelected Council of Europe.
  • “He should have requested greater financial transparency regarding EU budgets (audited accounts would be a start).
  • “And he should have been opposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as it is currently envisaged, a treaty that threatens to undermine democratic institutions at local, national and international level, in favour of global business interests to the detriment of millions of EU citizens.

A knockout blow?

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As the Department for Business launches a campaign to promote the benefits of the TTIP, following a wave of criticism from ‘civil society’, MPs and unions, Birmingham MP Roger Godsiff highlights the threats it poses to the UK’s public services, workplace safety, food hygiene, workers’ rights and environmental protection. George Monbiot says: This transatlantic trade deal is a full-frontal assault on democracy. Investor-state rules could be used to smash any attempt to save the NHS from corporate control, to re-regulate the banks, to curb the greed of the energy companies, to renationalise the railways, to leave fossil fuels in the ground.

Kenneth Clarke replies that TTIP is an astonishingly good deal for the UK economy.

America’s IATP raises a serious concern about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated

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The draft negotiating texts are open only to TTIP negotiators and security cleared advisors – mostly corporate representatives. However a draft chapter of the TTIP was ‘leaked’ recently. The concern cited focussed on Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues (SPS), relating to food safety and animal and plant health.

Proposals would offer financial benefits for U.S. meat and food companies, but jeopardize food safety for consumers

  • The text supports no requirement for port of entry food inspections and testing – 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 Mad Cow Disease or plant fungus outbreaks.
  • Laws or rules on agriculture animal welfare passed by a U.S. state or EU member state could not be enforced and used to prevent import of products from animals reared under poor conditions.

Read the complete leaked chapter for more information.

The TTIP Oversight Body, which would refer unresolved SPS concerns to a Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism, resembles the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)

unctad logoThe UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has ’denounced’ the ICSID convention and Ecuador, like Bolivia, has withdrawn from membership, terminating several bilateral investment treaties. The Investment Arbitration Reporter explains that Ecuador was angered by a series of rulings ordering the Republic to refrain from collecting its windfall levy payments from energy companies, until ICSID arbitrators had examined whether such levies breach the terms of investment contracts and/or treaties.

Are the proposals yet another move towards American economic hegemony?

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.