I’ve recently received a reply from the Tory candidate for Exeter, outlining his views on TTIP.
I decided to put my thoughts to him:
Sent: Tue, 3 Mar 2015 11:35
Subject: Re: TTIP
Dear Mr Morris
Thank you for your response the 30 Degree e-mail of 14/01/15 you were copied into ahead of the recent debate about TTIP in the House of Commons on 15/01/15
I note the points you make about where you stand regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and I would like to challenge some of the points you make.
For me, it find it hard to decide whether I am for TTIP or against, as I haven’t seen a text on which to judge the possible benefits. So that fills me with fears – that may or may not be realised.
The way the treaty is being negotiated has been a cause for concern – there has been an incredible amount of secrecy surrounding the negotiations..so far, most of the process of negotiation has been secretative and undemocratic.
Critics have said that transnational corporations had early opportunities to lobby the European Commission about the treaty but the same opportunities have not been extended to trades unions or civil society groups. Of the 560 meetings that the Commission’s Directorate-General for Trade held in preparation for negotiations, 520 were with business lobbyists and only 26 were with public interest groups.
So, for the most part these negotiations are being conducted exclusively by high-level civil servants. There is no political input.
Already there have been 7 rounds of negotiation…the last one concluded on 03 October 2014.
It was only after the conclusion of this round of negotiations (on 09 Oct 2014) that the Council of the European Union finally declassified the previously restricted negotiating mandate.
It took a year of campaigning to get even this small concession to transparency.
So we now know how they are negotiating – but not on what the terms are
“TTIP will lower trade barriers, boost growth and create more jobs within Britain.”
Most Free Trade Agreements are about reducing and removing tariffs, but that’s not the case with T-TIP.
Currently tariffs between the EU and the US are already low – they are close to zero, averaging around 3%. The major exceptions include running shoes and fancy chocolate!
So, unlike classic free-trade arrangements, TTIP focuses on regulatory and other non-tariff barriers – NBTs.
So my fear is that TTIP could seriously weaken the safety standards we rely on, and weaken the values of fairness and democracy we cherish.
As it stands, TTIP seems to be a bi-lateral trade agreement based around reducing the regulatory barriers to trade for big business – affecting things like food safety law, environmental legislation, banking regulations and the sovereign powers of individual nations.
In the words of John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, “T-TIP is correctly understood as a negotiation between two competing trading partners, but as an assault on European and US societies by transnational corporation seeking to remove regulatory barriers to their activities on both sides of the Atlantic.” (see John Hilary The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – a charter for deregulation, Rosa Luxenburg Stiftung, Brussels Office/War on Want
It appears is that this trade deal will simply result in a race to the bottom on labour, social, environmental, and heath & safety standards.
“TTIP could also boost the UK economy by up to £100 billion over a ten year period; this will help create jobs and security for British taxpayers. The car industry alone could benefit to the tune of 50,000 new jobs.”
You seem convinced of the argument put forward by it’s proponents – that TTIP will stimulate growth in both Europe and in the US., but the projections given by the EU Commission in relation to jobs and growth are not universally accepted; some commentators express a degree of caution, others outright scepticism.
I’ve been reading research by the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts Univerity
(Jeronim Capaldo, European Disintegration, Unemployment and Instability GDAE Working Paper 14-03 October 2014)
They seem to think that the projections endorsed by the European Commission point to positive, although negligible, gains in terms of GDP and personal incomes. In a paradox, these projections also show that any gains in Trans-Atlantic trade would happen at the expense of intra-EU trade reversing the process of European economic integration.
In there paper, Tufts Univeristy assess the effects of TTIP using the United Nations Global Policy Model, which incorporates more sensible assumptions on macroeconomic adjustment, employment dynamics, and global trade rather than the Computable General Equilibrium model that has proven inadequate as a tool for trade policy analysis.
This has led Tufts to project that TTIP will lead to a contraction of GDP, personal incomes and employment. We also project an increase in financial instability and a continuing downward trend in the labor share of GDP.
Evaluated with the United Nations model, TTIP appears to favor economic dis-integration, rather than integration, in Europe. At a minimum, this shows that official studies do not offer a solid basis for an informed decision on TTIP.
Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Researchnoted that the projected GDP increases in the study produced for the European Commission would not materialise in full until 2027, and that they reflected a best-case scenario. In a less ambitious, and “presumably more realistic” scenario, the GDP gain for the US by 2027 would be “roughly equal to a normal month’s growth” and thus in Mr Baker’s view, “too small to notice”.
“TTIP does not require Britain to open its NHS to private providers…”
This is the one element of TTIP that has caused most debate. If the NHS is safe,why refuse to specifically exclude it from all negotiations?
Just this weekend, BBC published the contents of a leaked document
which includes a Schedule of specific commitment s and reservations.
On health, the document states: “The EU reserves the right to adopt or maintain any measure with regard to the provision of all health services which receive public funding or State support in any form”.
The UK trade minister, Lord Livingston, said last week that this text ensured “publicly funded health services are excluded”.
But Unite The Union’s Scottish regional secretary, Pat Rafferty said: “Last week Lord Livingston tried to pull the wool over the eyes of the Scottish people.
“Now this leaked document has confirmed Unite’s expert legal advice, that NHS services in Scotland and the rest of the UK do fall within the scope of the TTIP.
I think this issue has to be put beyond any doubt. If everyone is so so confident that the NHS is protected, why don’t they specifically add it to the list of exclusions?
“…and will not affect how public services are paid for.“
The threat about TTIP has never been about “how public servces are paid forr” – but about how they are procured.
The Commission’s negotiating mandate includes provisions that T-TIP will increase mutual access to government procurement markets “at all administrative levels…in the fields of public utilities…and ensuring treatment no less favourable than that accorded to locally established suppliers”
Local government procurement would therefore be included.
As a result, a Commons Library research paper notes:
“There are concerns that [T-TIP]…could constrain the power of national governments to decide how publics services are provided”.
That’s the public services that we, Exeter City Council, deliver for our residents and citizens.
A motion was debated in the European Parliament on 15 May 2013 called for the Commission to explicitly exclude from the negotiating mandate access to public services:
- Calls on the Council to explicitly exclude from the negotiating mandate market access to public services or any regulatory cooperation threatening the horizontal exceptions for public utilities or directly or indirectly increasing pressure for liberalisation of the public‑service sector;
However, this motion (and many others alongside) was defeated.
The European Commission has claimed that public services will be kept out of T-TIP by virtue of an exclusion of services “supplied in the exercise of governmental authority” as defined in the General Agreement on Trade in Services [GATS], which comes under the World Trade Organisation [WTO].
But the WTO definition of what would qualify under this exemption is narrow – “only on a non-commercial basis and not in competition with other suppliers”
“The rules on … Investor State Dispute Settlement will preserve the right for the government to regulate in the public interests”
I have serious concerns over the inclusion of an Investor-State Dispute Settlement [ISDS] mechanism within T-TIP.
It is imperative to protect the right of democratically elected governments to legislate for legitimate public policy objective.
ISDS allows for multi-national companies to challenge this right.
Ultimately, ISDS remains a system based on PRIVATE justice rather than democratic jurisdiction.
It would effectively create a two-tier legal system, in which different sets of rules would apply to multinationals and small firms.
ISDS is unnecessary as investor protection is already provided for in our mature legal system.
And ISDS could be used as an instrument to coerce the EU or national governments, politically if not legally.
ISDS WILL challenge the right of governments to govern and leave them free to make the best laws for their citizens
I can see no reasonable justification to include ISDS in the T-TIP agreement.
“Both the public and Parliament will have the opportunity to further scrutinise the proposals as the negotiations carry on”
To date, national governments and MEPs from the European Parliament’s trade committee have only limited access to documents.
As I understand it, once negotiations are completed, the deal will be presented to the Council and the European Parliament, both of which must agree the outcome, which is then subject to signature and formal ratification. The deal has also to be separately ratified by the national parliaments of each of the EU Member States before it formally enters into force.
In the UK this will be done through secondary legislation – a draft Order in Council laid in Parliament and it has to approved by both the Commons and the Lords under the affirmative procedure, and then by the Privy Council. However, under ‘provisional application’ procedures, if member states agree to it via the Council, parts of the agreement can enter into force before it is ratified by national parliaments.
So, once the treaty is signed by negotiators, the UK parliament, like other EU member states, will only be able to vote to accept or reject the treaty as a whole: they will not be able to amend it in any way.
I hope that many of my fears outlined above will be dispelled as negotiations progress, but to date nothing I had read – nor anything contained within your comments – gives rise to any optimism.