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Worrying about TTIP

 The Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP)

 Plans to create an EU-USA single market will allow corporations to use secretive panels to sue governments, bypassing courts and parliaments

Shaking Hands on a Free Trade Agreement

 “Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin. “

 “The transfer of power from Governments to huge multi-national corporations is now a fact of life.  This means that if we want to keep the NHS, the BBC, public universities and schools (and stop fracking, see OFN NL 206), we’d better act now.”  

So how has this come about?

NAFTA: the North American Free Trade Agreement, on which TTIP is based, was rammed through in 1993 by President Clinton against the stiff resistance of  the trade unions, and against the concerns of many citizens.

It was advertised as a new model, for free trade agreements that would create jobs. The reality is that manufacturing jobs go to the cheapest global provider. What jobs there are offer little or no security and are very low paid.

NAFTA showers money on the richest people (the top 10%) in the three member countries and gives almost nothing at all to the others, increasing the already catastrophic inequality.

In NAFTA’s first 10 years the effect on the three member countries has been dramatic. So, in anticipation of TTIP, what effect has NAFTA had on the three member states: the USA, Canada and Mexico?

In the USA: about a million jobs have been lost due to the export of manufacturing. Globalisation means that jobs in manufacturing (and other industries) go to the countries where labour is cheapest and most exploited. Consequently, the only expansion is in service jobs. This directly affects women as workers and as users. They are the cleaners, nannies, waiters and nurses, traditionally badly paid.

The USA also has much poorer food safety. This is because there are fewer checks and balances on private companies. In one case. some imported berries caused hepatitis A outbreaks.

In Mexico: six million small farmers lost their livelihoods to subsidised cheap corn from the United States. Where were they going to go? The now unemployed Mexican farmers followed the resources taken from them by US agribusiness and went to the USA as undocumented workers. There they are currently the most viciously persecuted minority. But in the United States, too, about 170,000 family farms had to give up.

In Canada: environmental safety measures had to be revoked, e.g. the Canadian prohibition of a carcinogenic gasoline additive, MMT, which was subject to a complaint by the US-American manufacturer – and that corporation actually received 13 million dollars compensation under NAFTA for profits lost while the prohibition was in place !

In Austalia: which is not yet a member of a trade agreement, but where they are negotiating, tobacco giant Phillip Morris is challenging the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act passed by the Australian government in 2011 under the TTP by using the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)

The ISDS protects private businesses from loss of profit caused by legislation passed by the government of the ‘host country’, even if the legislation passed is in the interest of its citizens, not in  normal courts but in special, secret tribunals. 

 In Britain: So far, TTIP has not been passed but secret negotiations are going on.  What are we doing about it?

Jill Leigh

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