Letter to local councillors on TTIP

Dear Councillors McVey and Munro,

I note that Councillor Booth has a motion for council decrying the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Most of our active intelligence on TTIP is piecemeal, the process has been secretive and undemocratic. This secrecy is on-going, with nearly all information on negotiations coming from leaked documents and Freedom of Information requests. However, what we do know is alarming.

The worst aspects of TTIP are measures to protect investors, known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), corporations would also be able to sue democratically elected government if the actions of aforementioned governments (including local councils) are thought to reduce corporate profits in the future.

ISDSes are not a new thing: they are already in place in other bi-lateral trade agreements around the world. Swedish energy company Vattenfall is suing the German government for billions over its decision to phase out nuclear power in the wake of Fukushima. Philip Morris sued Australia for their decision to implement plain packaging on cigarettes. This is completely unacceptable, people – and by corollary, their democratic will – should come before profit.

One of the main aims of TTIP is to open up Europe’s public health, education and water services to transnational companies. TTIP’s ‘regulatory convergence’ agenda will seek to bring EU standards on food safety and the environment closer to those of the US – which are less strict and protective of public safety. The EU’s REACH regulations are far tougher on potentially toxic substances. In Europe a company has to prove a substance is safe before it can be used; in the US the opposite is true: a substance can be used until it is proven unsafe.

Most criticism of TTIP from the large parties has been mealy-mouthed. I don’t understand why this is the case. Rather than free trade creating jobs for us, TTIP will probably cause unemployment as jobs switch to the USA, where labour standards and what meagre trade union rights that exist are worse. This is an arch-capitalist assault on democracy, and should be treated with the contempt it deserves. I ask you to use your vote to follow Councillor Booth’s lead and condemn TTIP as the Tory wet dream that it is.

Yours faithfully,

Scott Macdonald

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