TTIP is the EU/US trade agreement – which is edging its way towards completion – with far too little public debate and knowledge.
It’s an agreement which will open up our public services – including the NHS – to aggressive multi-nationals. It would make it very difficult to resist them – and, indeed, would give them the right to take our government to court if they were seen to stand in the way of ‘free trade’.
It is probably the greatest single threat to the long-term future of the NHS as we know it.
The TTIP is often sold – when it’s discussed at all – as good for jobs and economic growth. That’s how Tory Lord Howe represented it last week – when he point blank refused to exempt the NHS from it.
So the following report on the workings of NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement – which has been around for 20 years – is especially interesting.
The Report noted the widespread opposition in the US to a new trade agreement – the TPP. [Apologies for the acronyms.]
‘Recent public opinion polls show broad opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) among Republicans, Democrats and independents of diverse geographic and socio-economic groups. What possibly could unite such a diversity of Americans otherwise deeply divided along partisan lines?’
The explanation here is the range of effects of NAFTA – few of them positive for the majority of the American or Mexican people.
You can read the report in full here.
But its chapter headings alone tell you its conclusions
US Job Losses, no projected gains
– projections on Trade Balance, Jobs prove wrong
– Huge new NAFTA Trade deficit emerges
– Services and Manufacturing export growth slows under NAFTA
– One million US jobs lost to NAFTA
Decreased Wages, Increased Inequality
– wages decline due to NAFTA
– US Economic inequality reaches new extremes
– Wage losses outweigh cheaper prices under NAFTA-style Trade Pacts
– Devastating of US manufacturing erodes the tax base that supports US schools, hospitals
Empty promises for US farmers
– NAFTA fails to deliver on promises to farmers
– Pork and beef suffer under NAFTA
Flood of Unsafe Imports
– NAFTA undermines safety standards for imported food
– Surging food imports overwhelm food inspections
Corporate Investor-State attacks on public interest laws
– NAFTA grants multinational corporations new privileges and an extreme enforcement process
– Corporate demands for taxpayer compensation surge
– NAFTA cases target health and environmental policies
– NAFTA threatens Green jobs programs
– Investor-state attacks force costly defense of US policies
Displacement, Falling Wages and Rising Immigration for Mexico
– NAFTA devastates Mexico’s rural sector, increases poverty
– Hunger in Mexico increases as food prices spike
– Mexican wages shrink, poorly paid temporary employment grows
– Immigration surges, driving dangerous US-Mexico border crossings
– Mexican businesses disappear, inequality persists and growth slows
The NAFTA Trucks Threat
– NAFTA requires access to US roads for trucks not meeting US safety or environmental standards
– Mexico uses NAFTA dispute to supersede US standards
– ‘Pilot’ program favors NAFTA compliance over safety and Environmental concerns
– Obama administration caves to Mexico’s $2.4 billion NAFTA trade sanctions threat
Surge in Trade Conflicts between NAFTA Countries
– NAFTA partners lead the world in Trade Pact attacks on the US
– NAFTA countries challenge US consumer protection rules
– NAFTA partners attack label to protect dolphins
The match between what this report found and what anti-TTIP campaigners have been saying is almost unbelievable.
It’s all there
– undermining government safety standards and other internal consumer protection
– undermining green initiatives – and targeting health policies
– aggressive action against governments which try to oppose, multinationals acquiring new freedoms.
And the plus side – jobs and growth?
Not much of that, apparently – declining wages, rising inequality, erosion of the tax base, devastation of manufacturing.
This is, of course, only one report on NAFTA. Others were much less critical, though the Congressional Report admitted among other things that it had increased inequality, that the realisation of the promises on growth and jobs was unclear, and that environmental safeguards needed to be considered in any future trade agreements.
There are an awful lot of questions to be answered here. And the TTIP needs to be right out in the open, at the centre of debate.
Just what will TTIP mean for our jobs, environment, consumer rights – and publicly provided health service?
Lord Howe said we couldn’t exempt the NHS because it would place our pharmaceutical companies at a disadvantage.
If we don’t do something about the TTIP it may be all of us who will be at a disadvantage.
And one thing which is clear is that the TTIP will open up the NHS to American private health companies.
There are some things we just can’t afford to risk – and the NHS is one of them.
Andy Burnham has already been to Brussels to discuss NHS exemptions.
Labour is committed to them.
This report suggests we may need to go further – and we certainly need far more open discussion of what’s at stake.
This is something the LibDem/Tory Coalition seem very reluctant to have.
Could the pattern of funding of the Tory party have anything to do with that?
We merely ask.
For more information from us sign up here