TTIP will tighten corporate noose

B. McPherson

For those who believe that giant corporations rule, the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP) is an ominous development. For proponents, it will bring about a new era of free trade between the USA and the EU.

The two great political entities are long time trade partners with few serious disputes over tariffs and markets. This proposed new trade agreement would eliminate even more of them. Together the USA and EU trade represents 60% of global GDP.

Negotiations have taken place largely out of the public’s purview but in March 2014 the German newspaper Die Zeit, leaked some of the content

Proponents of TTIP assure the public that this agreement once implemented will reduce artificial barriers to trade, reduce or remove tariffs and result in cheaper goods for consumers. Those who oppose the agreement are not convinced.

Key to environmentalists in the EU is the assurance that their higher standards for environmental protections will not be eroded. The text of the agreement(that which was leaked) seeks to reassure and speaks of “equivalents”.

Another huge objection to the agreement is the profit protection clause. It allows corporations to sue if a government refuses to comply with the agreement. For instance if a locally elected government refuses to allow fracking in its area, they may be sued by the corporation for damages. If a federal government decides to nationalise an industry, they may be sued for damages. Disputes would no longer be settled within a sovereign nation but in the pervue of a tribunal – Investor-state Dispute Settlements(ISDS).

Comment on TTIP is speculation at this time because the negotiators have opted to keep their work secret from the public.

Canada’s Conservative government negotiated a trade deal with China a year ago that gives investors protection from loss of profits. An example would be if a different government were elected that opted to not allow oil pipelines to the Pacific Coast. Investor corporations would have the right to sue the government(and by extension the people of Canada) for their losses in investments. While it seems far fetched that a trade tribunal can override national courts, it has happened in Canada. And it’s happened with our largest trading partner and neighbour over disputes on the NAFTA agreement.

Now litigious US companies are bullying the Canadian government. In one instance, it was about the right to shoot 360 caribou on a Canadian nature preserve. In another, it was about the large-scale extraction of tar sands that had been limited in one Canadian province due to environmental protection considerations.  Der Spiegel

The Guardian                    

Spiegel Online                  

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