How to make trade deals more democratic
Can trade deals work for people not profit?
As things stand, our elected representatives have virtually no say over trade deals. They can’t set a mandate to guide government negotiations, they have no right to see details of the negotiations, they can’t amend deals and they can’t stop them. In other words, we have no real democratic control over these vitally important deals.
We want to change that. Many MPs don’t even know how little power they have – or how far-reaching some trade deals can be. We need a completely new process, which puts democratic decision-making at the heart of trade policy.
- The right of parliament to set a thorough mandate to govern each trade negotiation, with a remit for the devolved administrations
- The right of citizens to be consulted as part of setting that mandate
- Full transparency in negotiations
- The right of parliament to amend and to reject trade deals, with full debates guaranteed and a remit for the devolved administrations
- The right of parliament to review trade deals and withdraw from them if they are damaging
As responsibility for trade policy and deals moves from Brussels to Westminster during the Brexit process, we need to put pressure on our representatives in Westminster to establish a more open and inclusive way of agreeing trade deals.
Trade can be different
Trade can be a positive thing. But over the last 40 years trade rules have increasingly been used to give big business power over democratically-elected governments and to turn every aspect of our society into a marketplace. It doesn’t need to be that way. We believe in a different sort of trade:
- Trade deals must exclude public services and government purchasing
- Trade deals can never trump human rights or environmental obligations
- Corporate courts must be scrapped, and replaced with mechanisms for ordinary people to challenge corporate violations of their rights
- Trade deals must encourage higher standards – not a race to the bottom
- Trade deals must never prevent a government genuinely acting in the public interest