25 April 2016
A Freedom of Information Access (FOIA) request by Global Justice Now has revealed the UK only secured one risk assessment with regards to the introduction of special investor courts as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and it found there was far more risk than benefit to the move.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the potential US-EU trade deal has been the introduction of a secret corporate court specifically for foreign investors, which would lie separate to the existing judicial systems of the countries involved. Similar courts in other international trade agreements have led to companies taking legal action against governments for bringing in policies that damage their profit line. For instance, tobacco giant Philip Morris sued both Australia and Uruguay for introducing packaging changes to cigarettes designed to discourage smoking; and waste and energy company Veolia sued Egypt for introducing a national minimum wage.
The FOIA request to the Department for Business, Industry and Skills (BIS) asked for the publication of all UK risk assessments on the introduction of investor courts as part of TTIP and turned up only one from the London School of Economics from 2013.
“In sum, an EU-US investment chapter is likely to provide the UK with few or no benefits. On the other hand, with more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in US FDI stock, the UK exposes itself to a significant measures of costs,” the report concluded.
The LSE stated that there was little economic or political advantage to the UK of such an agreement, but that there was substantial economic and political risk.
Furthermore, the report urged the government to consider excluding so-called “investment protection provisions”, such as corporate courts.
Global Justice Now reported that while investor courts are also part of the CETA deal between Canada and the EU, no risk assessment has been undertaken for this arrangement.
Nick Dearden, the Director of Global Justice Now, described the government’s support for TTIP as “staggering”.
“Yet again, this toxic trade deal is exposed as being full of harmful consequences for ordinary people, and new powers and privileges for corporate elites,” he commented.
Read the LSE report here
Update: Government responds by stating that TTIP presents no risk