Podcast: Polly Jones of the World Development Movement Discusses TTIP
This is a podcast of Polly Jones talking about the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership at University of Manchester Policy Week 2014. The World Development Movement changed it’s name to Global Justice Now, and are an organisation which fights for democratic social justice which works as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful to create a more just and equal world. They mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south.
Polly Jones describes TTIP as one example of a trade agreement which is being negotiated at the moment which is a threat to democracy, standards and jobs. Others include the Transpacific Partnership (TPP), the Trade and Services Agreement (TSA), all of which are of a similar nature which take us in a neo-liberal direction. These, she argues, are a result of the failure of multilateral trade talks in which all countries can take part.
TTIP is a trade agreement which sets up negotiations that are conducted in secrecy and away from media or regulation. Jones suggests that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP aims to remove ‘non-tariff barriers to trade’ and that this could spell disaster. At the moment, tariffs are at an all-time low and the fact that corporations on both sides of the Atlantic, want to remove more rules and regulations that might be stopping them from making even bigger profits is potentially catastrophic.
Jones asks us to think about the role that we want trade to play in our lives. We can no longer talk about trade just in terms of reducing tariffs anymore; it impacts our lives, the lives of others, our civilisations and our ecosystems, in so many more ways that are considered in these reductionist perspectives. The fallout prospects of these kind of actions for countries in the global South are not positive. Many enjoy a good relationship and status regarding trading with the European Union, which will be threatened by TTIP.
If TTIP is adopted it will supply a global standard for trade deals in the future. This essential is a power shift to corporations which will be followed across the planet. The agreement will impact on safety regulations, workers’ rights, environmental protection rules and food standards regulations. These are commonly perceived by corporate interests as barriers to trade and profits.
Corporations are imposing their will via the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS). It is a legal system, run entirely by corporate lawyers, that allows corporations to sue governments if they think legislation will harm future profits. It is a tactic corporations have used before such as when the tobacco giant Philip Morris sued Australia for introducing plain packaging on cigarettes – Philip Morris also sued Uruguay for printing a health warning on cigarette packets.
Other examples of the implementation of such tactics are where waste and energy company Veolia sued Egypt for introducing a minimum wage; where Argentina was sued for freezing energy prices to protect consumers following the country’s financial collapse, and where when the EU suspended the use of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides in 2013, Bayer and Syngenta have been lobbying to get them back on the market and suing for loss of profit.
Global Justice Now suggests that removing ISDS will not make TTIP an acceptable deal: “Food and Agricultural multinationals are spending more money than any other sector in lobbying for TTIP, US food giants want EU legislation removed on certain food safety rules – including the bans on chickens washed in chlorinated water and meat raised using certain growth hormones and additives”
If TTIP is implimented then health, education and water will all be further opened up to profit driven private companies. This makes the possibility of retrieving a nations public good from private hands very unlikely. TTIP is a move on regulations on the financial sector introduced in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and on restrictions which protect the welfare of farm animals or protection for consumers’ data online.
Global Justice Now (World Development Movement) frames TTIP as less of a negotiation of trade and more about a full frontal attack on society by multinational corporations seeking to impose their will on people both sides of the Atlantic.
The points which Polly Jones raises against the TTIP are:
- As an agreement it claims to create jobs in the economy; Jones argues that it does not do this
- Privatisation of public goods such as public services
- The impact TTIP could have on regulation and standards
- There is an entire lack of transparency surrounding the agreement
- It would end up costing the country rather than benefiting it