5 reasons to be worried about the new Trade Bill
On Wednesday the delayed Queen’s Speech in parliament laid out government plans for the next two years, including a bill on trade and customs. Now we have ‘our country back’ we can supposedly engage in trade with the EU and the world just how we want it.
This is important because trade and investment rules have a huge impact on almost all aspects of daily life – both here and around the world. From health, to jobs, to education, to the environment and climate, to ending poverty, trade rules affect them all.
However, our concern is that these trade deals will be done in secret with no space for parliamentary or public input; no space to hear from different people and groups across the country. Government trade negotiators, with a helping hand from big business lobbyists will in effect have free reign to do trade deals that put profit before people. Free reign even to do trade deals with regimes that abuse the human rights of their citizens.
They can take all the bits that big business liked, but the public hated, from trade agreements like TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) – eg lower regulatory standards, big business allowed to sue states, negotiations carried out in secret, privatisation of public service like the NHS.
So we are calling on the UK government to include five guarantees in the Trade Bill that would make the trade process democratic and accountable to the public:
- The right of parliament to decide how trade deal negotiations should be carried out and establish a clear mandate and a remit for devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
- The right of the public to be consulted as part of setting that mandate.
- Full transparency so at any given time parliament knows what is happening in trade negotiations.
- The right of parliament to amend and reject trade deals, with full debates and scrutiny guaranteed with a remit for devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.
- The right of parliament to review trade deals and withdraw from them, if necessary.
Without the above guarantees the UK will continue to produce trade deals that only favour the wealthy and further increase the gap between rich and poor, here and abroad.
We want UK trade deals that are good for the country, and the world, as a whole.