The TTIP threat - part of a bigger picture

Submitted by sglenister on Wed, 27/01/2016 - 11:51

27 January 2016

By Linda Kaucher,

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is one of the vehicles for the corporate Davos agenda, intended to lock-in this agenda within international ‘trade’ law, effectively permanently, regardless of future governments. If finalised, this US/EU deal and the other ‘new generation’ trade agreements will set global rules that have been devised by transnational corporations for corporate benefit.

An essential component of these trade deals is transnational corporate access to the cheapest labour. The US has failed to ratify six out of eight core International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions.

The UK has a key role in these deals. Transnational financial service corporations are the heart of corporate power and London is the main global financial services centre. While Wall St handles more money, the City of London handles more international money. This industry, fronted by the gold chains and pomp of the City of London, calls the tune whichever party is in government, dictating the UK’s role on the international stage, including in trade agreements, while ensuring that the UK is the model for liberalisation.

The agenda of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is to promote ‘stakeholder’ governance by transnational corporations in league with complicit, facilitating governments. And so-called ‘trade agreements’, and especially TTIP if it goes ahead, are the top-level means for that.

When the Global Financial Crisis hit, the WEF launched its Global Redesign Initiative (GRI). Naomi Klein identified ‘Shock Doctrine’, how any big shock, natural, political or economic, is an opportunity for those who are ready with a purpose and the resources. With input from many selected ‘experts’, the GRI has been completed and is now being pursued through the WEF’s 80-plus Global Agenda Councils. GACs personnel meet annually in Qatar. The Qatari leadership is a main funder of this project.

Key aspects of TTIP and also of the Transatlantic Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Canada/EU free trade agreement (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement - CETA) are deregulation and investor state dispute settlement (ISDS). Deregulation means getting rid of regulations that protect people because they limit the profits of corporations. ISDS, a quasi-legal but binding mechanism allows transnational corporations to sue governments for any regulating that limits expected corporate profits.

Although these main elements of these deals are not ‘trade’, ‘trade agreements’ provide a convenient way to lock these corporate-benefit arrangements into international treaties.

Add in the facilitation of transnational corporate access to all government spending at all levels of government and we can see why the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s best-funded business lobby, has described TTIP as ‘the gift that keeps on giving’.

With TTIP launched in June 2013, the 12th round of negotiations will take place in Brussels in February. These rounds bring the entire EU and US negotiating teams together, provide a focus and indicate that there is progress. However, background work continues outside of the ‘rounds’.

The TPP, which the US is also in and has similar aims and purpose as TTIP, was agreed at the end of 2015. Whether Congress and the parliaments of the other 11 Pacific participants will ratify it, is being thrashed out now.

CETA is also already agreed. The next EU stages will be the go-ahead from the member state governments European Council and then European Parliamentary assent – or not, in 2016 or 2017.

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Linda will expand on TTIP and its consequences at our EU Developments conference in London, where she joins a panel of experts from across academia, campaigning, trade unionism and law. Click here to book your place

CETA will be a back door for US corporations to pursue ISDS claims against EU governments via their Canadian subsidiaries. Yet at this point, even with the text of the completed CETA now public, there is no Commons library research paper on it, to inform MPs.

There is apparently little knowledge among UK MPs that TTIP and, before it, CETA, will be ‘provisionally implemented’ by the Commission before the UK and other member state parliaments are asked to ratify it. It is obvious why this key element is being kept quiet. In the Commons research paper on TTIP, the fact of ‘provisional implementation’ was played down.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in place for 20 years, includes ISDS. Very recently, Canadian infrastructure company TransCanada, brought a NAFTA ISDS case against the US government for withdrawing permission for a tar sands oil pipeline to run down through the US. Usually, it is US corporations using ISDS against other governments and when the US government has been sued, it has never lost a case. This case against the US government comes as the Congress is deciding on ratifying TPP.

ISDS threatens our regulatory protections. Experience where it is in place shows big pay-outs to corporations and/or withdrawal of regulation, and a ‘chilling’ of regulation as regulators become afraid to regulate.

As corporations use ISDS to effectively block regulation, TTIP will also include a living agreement structure, to formally prioritise corporate interests in regulating after the agreement is signed up. With untold and increasing powers including over governments, this is how transnational corporations will effectively control law making - in keeping with the WEF grand plan. This threatens our democracy.

The key TTIP text, showing the offers from both sides and what trade-offs are being made, will be kept from the public and MPs until negotiations are finalised.

The EU’s current ‘Better Regulation’ and ‘REFIT’ initiatives (for which the original stimulus came from the UK government) and our very own UK Deregulation Act (brought in quietly in the last days of the Coalition government) are enacting similar deregulation in a member state law, EU law, and international trade law continuum. What’s different is that while ‘deregulation’ is avoided and denied at the EU and TTIP levels, it is used blatantly in the UK legislation.

People overwhelmingly reject TTIP when they hear about it, so the UK government is now absolutely silent on it - while it continues to push forward TTIP negotiations.

All this shows why the work of informing people of what TTIP, this seemingly boring trade agreement, will mean to them and to future generations, is essential.

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