Wednesday 24th May 2017,
North Yorks Enquirer

Trade Deals and the Death of Democracy

September 21, 2014 Letters

A Letter to the Editor from Amanda SMITH, who writes as a member of the public in Whitby. Amanda is a Whitby Town (Parish) Councillor representing the Streonshalh ward. She shares with NYE readers information regarding a forthcoming event in Scarborough that is deserving of the attention of everyone who cares for our democracy – and our planet.

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Dear Mr Editor,

Those of us who care about democracy should be deeply worried by The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a so-called ‘free trade’ deal currently being negotiated by the EU and US. In reality it is a corporate power grab that threatens our public services, environment and democracy.

TTIP would grant corporations the power to sue governments, lock-in the privatisation of public services including the NHS, and undo regulations that protect workers, the environment and food safety and standards.

The major focus of TTIP is reducing ‘non-tariff barriers to trade’. In practice, this is likely to mean slashing rules and regulations introduced by democratic processes to reign in corporate power. The aim of this deal is to open up new markets for corporations. While proponents argue that this will mean more jobs and growth, there is little evidence for this. In reality, TTIP will mean more profits and power for wealthy corporations, with potentially disastrous consequences for the rest of us.

Although negotiators are trying to keep this deal as secret as possible, leaked texts and expert analysis show that TTIP will mean the following:

  • Corporate courts: Through a mechanism known as the ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS), TTIP would grant corporations the right to sue governments, if governments make decisions which reduce their profits. This would take place through an international arbitration process that completely bypasses countries’ existing legal systems. In the past, ISDS has been used by tobacco giant Philip Morris to challenge Australia’s decision to introduce blank cigarette packaging, and by US oil company Occidental Petroleum, who won over a billion pounds in a claim against Ecuador.
  • Slashing regulation: Decades of neoliberalism have already eroded hard-won rules and regulations designed to protect the environment, workers’ rights, public services and consumer standards. TTIP would place the little regulation we have left under threat by ‘harmonising standards’ between countries. This would mean a race to the bottom in terms of pay and working conditions, environmental protection, food safety standards and financial regulation.
  • Forcing new unfair trade rules on the poor: Although TTIP is being drawn up between the EU and the US, if TTIP is agreed, countries in the global south will come under huge pressure to apply TTIP standards to avoid losing trade from the EU and US. The business lobby are upfront about the fact that they aim to secure “global convergence toward EU-US standards which could then become de facto global standards”. If agreed, TTIP would make it easier for western companies and governments to push deregulation and neoliberal economic policies on poorer countries, worsening poverty and inequality.

If you want to learn more and add your voice to the growing list of dissenters then David Malone (Film maker and writer) will be giving a talk at 7pm October 1st at Scarborough Library.

Regards, etc.

Amanda

Amanda SMITH, Whitby. 21st September, 2014.

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