NHS and food remain under threat from US trade deal, despite Truss denials

Thursday, 6 February, 2020

Commenting on Liz Truss's written statement today, Jean Blaylock, campaign and policy manager at Global Justice Now, said:
“Liz Truss has today put out some reassuring platitudes about her trade plans leading to a land of milk and honey, but the leaked trade papers have already revealed a different story. We know that the NHS, drug prices and food standards are on the table, because the US has put them there. The UK has failed to rule them out in the only place that matters - in the talks themselves.

“If the UK government wants a US deal, it will have to give ground on the very issues where it is promising not to. This is the billion dollar question, and once again it has been sidestepped. What we do know is that Boris Johnson’s red lines have a tendency to evaporate like mist into the Irish Sea.

“The government says a trade deal will not interfere with tackling climate change, but we know the US has already ruled out any mention of climate. Recent US trade deals have all included requirements to increase trade in fossil fuels at a time when we need to be leaving them in the ground. While Boris Johnson flounders over the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow, a US trade deal could undermine anything that conference might achieve.

“The statement also shows that the notorious 'corporate courts' are on the UK’s agenda for a US trade deal. This is a shadow legal system that can be written into the rules of trade and investment deals and allows corporations to sue governments outside of domestic courts. Corporate courts are fundamentally unjust and rather than suggesting the UK should push for them, Truss should be promising they will have no part in UK trade policy."

Liz Murray, head of Scottish campaigns at Global Justice Now, said:
"There are many things for Scotland to be concerned about here. Anything negotiated by the UK government, including the NHS, drug prices and food standards, will have an impact here in Scotland. That’s because the effects of trade deals like the one the UK government wants between the UK and the US, extend far beyond the customs border and into areas of public policy. And that will have profound consequences across the UK and on areas of policy (and indeed life) over which the Scottish parliament has responsibility.

"This includes health, environment, food, farming, public procurement and the provision of public services. And the areas where Scotland has gone further than the rest of the UK, such as the ban on GM crops and stronger greenhouse gas emissions targets, could be particularly at risk of legal action by US corporations worried about loss of profit. On that basis, it’s vital that Scotland and the other devolved nations are given a say.”

Notes
1. https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-statement/Commons/2020-02-06/HCWS96/
2. https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/news/2019/nov/27/leaked-papers-us-uk-trade-talks-guide-revelations