For the proponents of ‘free trade’, cheaper jeans and beef, as a headline in an article in the Times today suggests, are enough to justify the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the various other such partnerships across the Pacific and between the EU and Canada in the pipeline.
Not so, argues John Hilary, executive director of War on Want, who was speaking at Hebden Bridge Trades Club on Valentine’s day. I went along to hear him argue that far from a consumer cornucopia arising from such deals, their secretive, undemocratic negotiations are all for the benefit of big business on both sides of the Atlantic. Their agenda is about deregulation, privatisation and giving companies the ability to sue governments seeking to enact health, food and environmental legislation and threaten hard fought for food standards in Europe amongst many other things. Here’s what he had to say:
After his talk, he discussed a wide range of questions. Here are his answers on a wide range of issues that were brought up: Fracking, time frames, the NHS, food, strategic geo-politics, the co-op movement, media coverage, core labour standards and race to bottom, internationalism and vision of world we want, the 1% against the 99%, people power, politics and trade unions and local councils.
It is not just in the UK and Europe that opposition to TTIP is growing but in the US too, as a new video “Fast Track to an Empty Basket”, from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, shows. The trade agreements, say IATP, allow agribusiness and other global corporations to undermine food safety standards, local food efforts such as Farm to School and GMO labelling.