Britain’s accession to Pacific trade deal is ‘betrayal’ of environmental and welfare standards
Date: 16 July 2023
- Kemi Badenoch to sign Pacific Trade Deal on Sunday, 16 July 2023
- Campaigners say battery chickens and climate-damaging palm oil are ‘tip of the iceberg’
Global Justice Now has warned that Britain’s accession to the Pacific trade deal this weekend will lead to a slow drip-feed of ever lower standards, with eggs from battery chickens and palm oil from projects which endanger orangutans likely ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of lower food and environmental standards.
Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Kemi Badenoch, will sign the deal – formally known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – on Sunday. Britain will join 11 Pacific rim countries including Malaysia, Japan, Mexico and Chile in the deal.
But Badenoch stands accused of signing away Britain’s environmental and welfare standards to get the deal over the line, notably failing to ban imports of food from chickens kept in battery cages, and lowering tariffs on palm oil produced on Malaysian plantations that endanger remaining orangutan populations, in effect reneging on deforestation pledges made at the UN climate conference in Glasgow in 2021. Campaigners further warn the Pacific trade deal isn’t a one-time set of rules, but rather gives corporate lobbyists permanent power to force governments to lower standards over time, putting further vital standards at risk, and local farmers at a disadvantage.
Global Justice Now points out that Britain has also failed to secure an opt-out from the so-called ‘corporate court’ system, which allows corporations and rich investors from partner countries to sue Britain in secretive international ‘courts’ for any action they believe is unfair. These courts have already proven themselves an obstacle to phasing out climate-destroying fossil fuels and improving standards to protect our health system or improve animal welfare.
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now said:
“We will come to rue the day the government signed us up to the Pacific trade deal, which represents a betrayal of our environmental and welfare standards and our climate commitments. The Pacific trade deal is an outdated pact which puts the supposed rights of big business ahead of our rights as citizens, producers and consumers. UK negotiators could have agreed opt-opts to protect some of our most cherished standards, but they failed to do so, driven by an ideological drive to hand more power to international markets.”
“While we are right to be worried about the battery eggs and climate-destroying palm oil, this could well be just the tip of the iceberg. The power this deal gives to corporate lobbyists and the toxic corporate court system could end up having a devastating impact on our ability to counter climate change and indeed on our democratic processes.”
Global Justice Now is a UK campaign against poverty, inequality and environmental destruction. We mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south.
Photo: Melinda Nagy/Flickr