Why the fight for global justice means putting an end to TTIP


16 January 2015

Yesterday several MPs, from across the political spectrum declared in Parliament that they had received more correspondence from their constituents expressing concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) than anything else.

TTIP has ignited a grassroots campaign on trade, the likes of which we haven’t seen since we campaigned successfully for public services to be taken out of the General Agreement on Trade in Services in 2003 and stopped the Multilateral Agreement on Investment in 1999. Just this week, the European Commission announced that 97% of people who responded to their consultation on TTIP do not want the deal to be agreed or do not want new rules to protect investors because they could be used to sue governments.

In fact TTIP is a Frankenstein combination of those two previous agreements, without the involvement of many countries which will be affected if TTIP is agreed.

This is why Global Justice Now first started campaigning on TTIP. The ambitions of the deal far exceed its impact in the EU and the USA. Negotiators launched the trade talks hoping the deal would set the standard for all future trade deals, where ever and who ever negotiated them. This is important because studies find that developing countries may lose up to 7% of their per capita income from the changes to EU and US tariffs in TTIP, as well as come under pressure to agree investment rules which curtail government decision making and benefit big business. Yet developing countries can play no part in negotiating this deal because it is between the EU and the USA.

With a growing membership and active local groups which have an appetite for trade justice, Global Justice Now was in a position to campaign here in the UK on this trade deal, in the hope that stopping TTIP now would stop this being a model for future trade deals around the world. How could we explain to allies in developing countries that we had a chance to do this here and now but let it pass because TTIP was not enough about development?

This goes to the heart of our reasons for changing our 45 year old name this week from the World Development Movement to Global Justice Now. A lack of development cannot explain the structural reasons for poverty, inequality and injustice around the world. And it is not the solution. Poverty is political. To address poverty and inequality we need to confront power and put control over the world’s resources into the hands of the many and not the few. This means challenging the orthodoxy that free markets can solve all our problems and resisting the corporate takeover of so many parts of our lives.

TTIP exemplifies the faith there is in market solutions to solve all our problems. With weak evidence about the benefits, the UK government is leading the charge for a TTIP deal which would open markets in new areas and with less regulation, such as education and public procurement. Nowhere in yesterday’s parliamentary debate did Minister Matthew Hancock say public services would be protected from being sued under proposed rules to protect business.

TTIP also exemplifies the power and influence of big business. Of 560 lobby encounters with the European Commission, 92% were from business. This goes some way to explaining why the real winners from the deal will be businesses which profit from the new markets and lower costs without ensuring everyone, especially the poorest, benefit as well.

Our new name, Global Justice Now, is fit for purpose for a new era. Work with us. Join us. Together we can stop TTIP.

 
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