Britain faces ‘TTIP on steroids’ as US trade talks begin, campaigners warn

Monday, 13 November, 2017
  • Trade democracy protest outside Department for International Trade on first of three days of US-UK trade talks in London
  • Date of Trade Bill second reading expected to be announced
  • 100 MPs support call for major changes; parliamentary launch next week

Photos available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wdm/albums/72157666302246759/with/38358423132/

Campaign group Global Justice Now has warned there are just months to stop ‘TTIP on steroids’ as the latest round of trade talks between the United States and United Kingdom governments begins in London. 

While any trade deal resulting from the talks would not come into effect until after Brexit, the campaigners warn that the new Trade Bill, tabled last week, will give the UK government sweeping powers to agree an eventual deal with the Trump administration without MPs having the power to stop it. They fear the UK’s weaker bargaining position after Brexit will lead to an even worse deal on crucial issues like food standards, private access to public services, and corporate courts than that offered by TTIP, the EU-US trade deal that was scuppered last year after mass opposition across Europe. (1)

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:
“A trade deal with Trump will see Britain getting the worst possible deal – it has a poor negotiating hand and we have, in Liam Fox, a Trade Secretary who agrees with Trump on deregulation of food and public services. So we’re looking at TTIP on steroids here.

“What’s worse is that MPs currently have no ability or right to scrutinise what Liam Fox is up to. They don’t even have the right to know when or where trade meetings are happening. This is a long way from ‘taking back control’. Fortunately MPs have a few months now to amend the Trade Bill and give themselves full democratic power over trade policy. If they fail to do this, we will see our rights, standards and protections increasingly traded away with no transparency or accountability.”


Last week US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross made clear that a quick trade deal with the Trump administration would require the UK to give up regulatory standards on things like chlorinated chicken and GM foods. At the G8 in June, Trump told May he wanted to do a “very big, very powerful” trade deal with the UK “very very quickly”. (2)

Trade secretary Liam Fox was criticised last week for tabling his Trade Bill before Parliament the morning after the closure of a public consultation on its contents. He was accused of ‘making a mockery of democracy’ after more than 60,000 people submitted objections to the trade white paper, and multiple organisations and academics made detailed submissions, only to find that the bill was rushed out the following morning. Parliamentary managers are due to announce the date of the second reading of the bill later today. (3)

More than 100 MPs from all opposition parties, as well as the DUP, have signed EDM 128 calling for a range of measures to subject trade deals after Brexit to proper parliamentary scrutiny. It is the third most popular motion out of over 500 in the session. Global Justice Now is a member of the Trade Justice Movement, which will be launching its Trade Democracy campaign in Parliament on Tuesday 21 November. (4)

Notes

1. The talks were announced by US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross last week, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41888823.
See ‘Trading with Trump’: http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/news/2017/apr/20/trading-trump-%E2%80%93-what-we-can-expect-uk-us-trade-deal

2. See https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/06/trump-ross-says-uk-us-trade-deal-eu-brexit-chlorinated-chicken and http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/08/donald-trump-expects-trade-deal-uk-completed-quickly/

3. See Trade Bill 2017-19, https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2017-19/trade.html and ‘Liam Fox's Trade Bill makes a mockery of democracy’, http://www.globaljustice.org.uk/news/2017/nov/7/liam-foxs-trade-bill-makes-mockery-democracy

4. Early Day Motion 128 calls for:

  • The right of Parliament to set a thorough mandate to govern each trade negotiation, with a remit for the devolved administrations
  • The right of the public to be consulted as part of setting that mandate
  • A presumption of full transparency in negotiations
  • The right of Parliament to amend and to reject trade deals, with full debates and scrutiny guaranteed and a remit for the devolved administrations
  • The right of Parliament to review trade deals and withdraw from them in a timely manner.

See https://www.parliament.uk/edm/2017-19/128

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