Don't sign Britain up to Trans-Pacific 'Powergrab', say campaigners
- Deal would threaten food standards and public services
- Fox accused of ‘preempting debate' about closeness to EU standards post Brexit
Trade campaigners have warned that a government proposal to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) risks a ‘race to the bottom’ in food and financial standards after Brexit. It also poses threats to the NHS and other public services, and would leave Britain at the mercy of a ‘corporate court’ system which would allow overseas business to sue the British government in secret courts for regulations which they believe damage their profits.
Responding to a Department for International Trade consultation on joining the TPP, which closes on Friday (1), campaign groups War on Want, Global Justice Now and Trade Justice Movement also suggest that signing the TPP ‘jumps the gun’ in terms of public debate about how close the UK stays to the EU’s common rulebook after Brexit, and would make a European customs union far more difficult to agree.
In a joint briefing, The Trans-Pacific Powergrab, the groups find that the TPP would:
- Entrench the ‘corporate court’ system that gives multinational corporations special powers to bully and sue governments (2)
- Undermine food standards – threatening to allow chlorine chicken and steroid-fed beef into the UK, lowering the quality of food and jeopardising farmers’ livelihoods
- Undermine public services across the world – threatening the NHS and the ability of the developing countries in the deal to build their own public services
- Give more power to big tech companies to use and abuse our data, and prevent developing countries from building their digital sectors, which are vital for their development
- Move Britain closer to a US-style system of deregulation that would make it harder to work closely with the EU
Jean Blaylock from War on Want said:
“We are right in the middle of a huge political debate about how close the UK stays to its EU trade relationships post-Brexit. Parliament has not yet made a decision on this issue. So it’s completely premature for the Department for International Trade to suggest we should join a trade deal which would make it near impossible to keep our current standards and continue to be aligned to the EU rulebook. Our fear is that this is an attempt to prejudge that decision and force post Brexit UK down the road of a deregulated US-style economic regime which we know Dr Fox supports.”
Nick Dearden from Global Justice Now said:
“The hard Brexiteers believe that Brexit can achieve all manner of miracles – but the idea of Britain as a pacific state is surely far fetched even for them. Here in Europe we defeated a very similar deal to this – called TTIP (3) – because we didn’t want big business to have more control over our laws, our public services and our societies. Liam Fox obviously hopes enough people are looking the other way so he can begin to sign us up to something equally toxic. But if he’s serious, we’ll fight this deal every step of the way.”
1. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a trade and investment deal between 11 Asia-Pacific countries. When the US left the deal last year, it was renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, and certain clauses were put on hold. For ease, we still use the term TPP. The consultation is at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/trade-with-thecomprehensive-and-progressive-agreement-for-trans-pacific-partnershipcptpp
2. The Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system allows overseas investors to sue governments in secret tribunals for treating them ‘unfairly’. In practice this has seen cases brought for putting cigarettes in plain packaging, raising the minimum wage or placing a moratorium on fracking.
3. The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) was a proposed trade deal between the EU and US, shelved after 3 years of protest and public concern in 2016.
4. The full briefing can be found at: https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/sites/default/files/files/resources/tpp-briefing_2018_web.pdf