Letter: Don’t be fooled by TTIP secrecy

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I fear that Brian Bruce’s desire that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will pass us all by is likely to be in vain should this suspiciously secret piece of legislation be passed.

That this country will be involved is rather strongly suggested by the fact that Nick Clegg was sent to the USA in September 2013 to try and quell growing fears in the US Congress about the impact that this might have on their own individual states. Well might they be nervous. It seems that introducing a similar trade agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 between Canada, the US and Mexico resulted over several years in the loss of around a million jobs in the US.

Please don’t be fooled by this legislation. Veiled in secrecy it is the result of lobbying of the EU apparatchiks by the Round Table of Industrialists in Europe, The TransAtlantic Business Dialogue, (an invitation-only group of chief executives from the most powerful US and European companies set up in 1995), and the business round table of America – the sources of the 119 closed meetings to which Mr Barnes refers.

The open meetings are of course, whitewash.

Major among the concerns of these worthy gentlemen is the abolition of inconvenient regulation which may have some impact on their already significant profits. As Mr Barnes mentions farming, the effects we can anticipate in that sector could be; the effective removal of any ban on more toxic and dangerous, hormone-disrupting pesticides ie a reduction to the laughable level of protection current in the US, serious competition for our hard-pressed farmers as the regulations against hormone-treated beef and chlorine-treated chicken are allowed into our markets – public health standards currently preventing 40% of imports of these products. The farmers can also expect a price war on meat as imports from the intensive feed lots in the US would increase.

As for the rest of us we can expect – no increases in the minimum wage (and more likely a downwards wage spiral) as businesses seek to increase profits in a newly unregulated labour market, American health care and education companies tendering for contracts in the NHS and schools as the holding of health care in an institution like the NHS for the general wellbeing rather than for private profit would be rendered illegal, public health standards could be expected to decline at the same time as these would be a barrier to profit. Fracking would have no controls, and most environmental legislation would be removed so a multinational wouldn’t have its profits cut by having to dispose of toxic materials in a safe manner. To name but a few.

And if legislation were to be introduced to mitigate the more extreme effects of this legislation, the government could be sued – and any compensation would of course be paid by the long-suffering tax payer. (This has happened when Doe Run’s multi-metal smelter at La Oroya, Peru, one of the most polluting in the world, reopened. The company sued Peru for US$800 million, claiming the government violated “equal-treatment clauses” in the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement). Do we really want to be paying for our own attempts to keep ourselves healthy and our environment clean? I would suggest not.

In short the TTIP seems to have little benefit for the vast majority and most, as usual, for an already wealthy minority. What a surprise that is.

However I am prepared to admit that there may be benefits I haven’t heard of yet. And I would like once again to invite our MP Mr Boles, to respond to this letter and open a public debate through the pages of this newspaper, to inform his constituents of any benefits of the TTIP. If you don’t Mr Boles, we must be forced to conclude that you, and our government, are happy to let such iniquitous and far reaching deals be made behind closed doors.

May I refer any interested readers to the excellent document on this subject prepared by John Holary of War On Want at www.waronwant.org/campaigns/trade-justice/more/inform/18078-what-is-ttip (or easier search for TTIP and find the waronwant.org entry)

Keith Martin

Edenham Road,
Hanthorpe, Bourne