Other toxic deals
There are other toxic trade deals in negotiation:
TiSA: Selling off public services
The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) aims to turn public services like health, education, water and sanitation into commodities for trade – essentially, to privatise them. It threatens to exclude millions of people worldwide from access to these vital services.
Negotiations on the TISA deal began in 2012. It involves 50 countries, including the UK and the rest of the EU. It was initiated following the stalling of talks on services at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), due to opposition from many, mainly poorer countries.
The TiSA deal aims to make it much easier for multinational companies to get involved in the provision of essential services. Public services play a crucial role in tackling poverty and inequality. But the TiSA deal would restrict the legal powers of governments to run services like education and water for the benefit of their citizens.
The TiSA would worsen the situation of migrant workers by limiting the ability of governments to protect their rights. It also seeks to further reduce regulation governing the international finance sector – despite the financial crisis which resulted from an already deregulated finance industry.
Global Justice Now is working with allies around the world to build the movement against TISA.
TPP: A trade deal across the Pacific
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade deal being negotiated between 12 countries in North America, Latin America, Australasia and the Pacific. Like the TTIP and other trade deals, it aims to increase the power of big business over many areas of life, including public services and democracy.
But the TPP deal goes even further, by committing governments to allowing multinational companies access to all public and other services, unless they have been specifically excluded.
The TPP has provoked protests across the countries involved in the talks, including by Japanese farmers and New Zealand nurses.
The deal reached agreement in October 2015, but has yet to be ratified by governments, so there is still hope.
Bilateral Investment Treaties
Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) are treaties between two countries that deal exclusively with the protections to be offered to international investors. In effect, they mean that companies have little need to undertake risk assessments because they know that people in the country they are investing in will always pick up the tab if the company’s profits are hit by government policy changes.
The UK has BITs with more than 100 countries, more than two-thirds of them are developing countries. Because it is very unusual for developing country businesses to be able to afford to invest in rich countries, the UK knew when it signed the deals that it was exposing itself to minimal risk.
The treaties allow companies to challenge a wide range of government policy decisions, from changes to environmental legislation, labour laws, decisions regarding tariffs for water and electricity to measures put in place in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
Following the UK vote to leave the EU, the UK has to rethink its entire trade policy. Formal negotiations on new trade arrangements cannot begin until the UK exits the EU. But we can take action right now on the UK’s existing Bilateral Investment Treaties.
Global Justice Now is working with the Trade Justice Movement to call for a fundamental rethink of the UK’s approach to trade and investment. Getting our approach right for existing treaties will help to shape our future trade arrangements.