Pictured: Global Justice Now carried out some street theater in Brighton to highlight the power dynamics of TTIP in July of last year.
Recent weeks have seen important developments for both supporters and opponents of TTIP. In early October the seventh round of TTIP negotiations drew to a close in Washington. A member of the Comhlámh Trade Justice Group talks about where the movement is going.
This round focused largely on regulatory issues, including areas such as standards and regulatory coherence. Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, European Union TTIP Chief Negotiator, described the discussions as “very productive”.
However, in good news for the anti-TTIP movement, it has been announced that over 1.3 million people have signed the Stop-TTIP European Citizens’ Initiative – an incredible achievement after less than a month of campaigning!
The Comhlámh Trade Justice Group is delighted that the protest against TTIP is gathering pace, as the proposed deal would be a serious blow to the countries of the Global South in their efforts to combat poverty. The likely effects of the agreement on poor countries around the world have not received as much attention as some of the other problems associated with it – certainly it is not a topic often raised by TTIP supporters.
Yet this issue is far too serious to be overlooked. Many of the world’s poorest countries rely heavily on the EU and the USA as important trading partners; the changes to the tariff regime and the sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures foreseen by the TTIP framework could place these countries at a real disadvantage in international trade.
A report by the Centre for Analysis of Regional Integration at the University of Sussex for the Department for International Development found that TTIP could put 26 low-income countries at risk of significant losses in trade income.
However, arguably the greatest threat posed by TTIP to the Global South is not the direct decrease in trade it is likely to cause, but rather the pattern it will set for future international trade deals.
The partnership has been widely trumpeted as “the new gold standard for all future trade agreements”. US economist Kimberley Amadeo has declared rightly that the “US and EU… could stand as a united front against market threats from the rest of the world”.
What this means in reality is that, if TTIP is passed, poor countries will come under intense pressure during any future trade negotiations to accept the standards set by TTIP – standards that have already been heavily criticised for their impact on everything from environmental protection through consumer safety to workers’ rights.
The Atlantic Council has taken up this theme with enthusiasm. In a publication that candidly – and revealingly – referred to “promoting safety, protecting the populace from fraud or unsafe business practices, and protecting the environment” as a “burden”, the well-known think-tank proposed that the best means of tackling this “burden” would be to create an “economic NATO” – with TTIP as the vanguard.
Check out the Irish TTIP information network Facebook page that Comhlámh and other supporting organisations are running.