The United States has just signed a 5 year Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in a secret deal we are only aware of due to a leaked document from WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor said: “The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court for multinationals to sue states. This system is a challenge to parliamentary and judicial sovereignty. Similar tribunals have already been shown to chill the adoption of sane environmental protection, public health and public transport policies.”
This massive power grab will affect the people of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and The USA and while these countries may need a little help in reversing this deal, we still have hope that we can send a message by halting the process of TTIP which is the European equivalent.
TTIP or The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are a series of secret trade negotiations between the EU and USA. TTIP is concerned with reducing the regulation for the already powerful corporations on issues like- food safety law, environmental restrictions and banking regulations.
These undemocratic and secretive negotiations began last February with just about all of the information coming from leaked documents and Freedom of Information requests.
Luckily the Europeans are not going down without a fight as today activists have handed over 3,263,920 signatures apposing TTIP. But here is what can be expected as a result of TTIP being signed.
Public services including the NHS (National Health Service) will be at risk. TTIP aims to open up European public health, education and water services to US corporations.
This could result in the privatisation of the NHS and potentially many other public services.
In this video Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe explains his views on the rights to clean, drinkable water. Do we really want people with this mind-set determining the rules on our fundamental human rights?
Environment and food safety
TTIP plans to bring the European food standard in line with those of America.US regulations are far more lenient and a lot more damaging to our health.
A recent report from the Center for International Environmental Law (Ciel) argues that the European chemical industry wants the US system of chemical risk assessment to be adopted, which the group says would allow the use of over 80 pesticides currently banned in the EU. Other campaigners say US biotech companies want to use TTIP to open EU borders to imports of genetically modified food.
The European regulations are far tougher on potentially dangerous substances, where a company must prove a substance to be safe before it is approved for use. The US has the opposite attitude where any substance can be used until it is proven to be dangerous.
An example- There are 1,200 substances banned from use in cosmetics, compared to just 12 in the US.
It is suspected that TTIP could bring back ACTA’s (the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement ) which is an easing of privacy laws and a restriction of what the public can access under Freedom of Information requests.
Edward Snowden recently revealed the shocking violations of privacy that where happening at the hands of the United State government, the last thing we need is for the laws to be relaxed any further.
The most worrying thing about TTIP is the threat to our freedom. If TTIP gets through they will be setting up secret courts which allow companies to sue governments if they refuse to let them trade. This means corporations will be able to legally dictate the policies of our governments.
A recent and ongoing case of this is Monsanto vs The State Of Vermont, were Monsanto are suing the state because they want to have transparently labelled products. This case has been picked up by activist charities such as Sum Of Us http://action.sumofus.org/a/monsanto-sues-vermonts/ who have raised money for the states defence. Had this not been the case, there would have been a good chance that Vermont would have had to either submit or face bankruptcy.
The European Union has admitted that TTIP will likely cause unemployment, due to jobs switching over to the US. The reason behind this is due to their lack of labour standards and trade union rights.
Should TTIP come in, it will also have the ability to significantly lower our labour standards and trade union rights, which is something that we currently need more of. And like the case I spoke about a moment ago with Monsanto vs Vermont. We also have had Egypt vs Veolia, where the energy giant sued Egypt for trying to raise the minimum wage.
TTIP is a violation of our human rights and will tip the scales even more in the favour of the already powerful corporate elite. As of now there is not much we can do but share the message, so I encourage you to share this with every person you can. Maybe if we can make a stand and the voices of the 3,263,920 people who have signed against it can be heard, we may be able to halt TTIP and work towards the reversal of TPP and put the power back in the hands of the people.