People's Assemblies Network

Alert on The US/EU Free Trade Agreement

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Brave New Trans-Atlantic Partnership.

Much of the content included here is taken with thanks from Occupy London..

Why should we be very concerned about the current US/EU Free Trade Agreement?

The US/EU Bi-Lateral Trade Agreement talk on the 28th October 2013 with Linda Kaucher and Tom Lines was a runaway success. Here is a loosely edited video of the talk. About 30 people turned up which was the perfect number for a full house at the London Action Resource Center in Whitechapel. About 40 people watched the livestream of the event. At the end of the evening an email list of 16 signatures was gathered from mostly new sign ups to Occupy to start a group to combat this legislation. This is a wonderful income and we hope to keep up the vibrant urgency and motivation we created on the night.

Much was learnt and it could not be more concisely summarised than through the latest contribution by a visitor at LARC yesterday who wishes to remain anonymous.

~Polly Tikkle

A response from one of the attendees who wishes to remain anonymous.
EU-US Trade Deal. Meeting in Whitechapel, 28/10/13


Comment
“Thank you” very much to you and to the other organisers at Occupy for arranging last night. It was great and very informative. I learnt a lot and have hope that we can do something about all this. Whether we have success is another matter though:

Overall, this was really a very depressing meeting, although it was also very informative and taught me an awful lot about what is actually going on with the EU-US Trade Deal.

1. The reason why the US is so keen to get involved in trade deals is because it feels it is losing its dominance in the global market. The biggest threat to the US dominance is China. The thinking behind such trade deals is that, by the time the Chinese economy reaches dominance, the US will have safely locked in so many other countries into trade deals with it, that China will have to play by America’s rules and not vice versa.

2. The way that trade deals come about is that representatives (not govts) do the negotiating. Obviously these are not democratically nominated representatives and they represent the concerns of Big Business, *not* the citizens of the individual countries involved. i.e. we are living in a time of Corporate Fascism (Fascism Lite). A film was recommended to watch which demonstrates how this works in the EU. The film is called “The Brussels Business” and is available on youtube.

3. Part of the Trade Deal with the US will involve the harmonising of regulations. This will impact on just about everything to do with how we live our lives and will include issues such as: the environment, fracking, food standards, health matters, GMOs. An example was given of the govt’s seeming U-Turn on plain tobacco packaging, but a case has already been fought (and lost) in Australia where tobacco companies were successfully able to argue that it infringed upon their ability to distinguish one brand from another.

4. The NHS and other public services. This is the worst bit of the lot, IMO Unless the NHS is exempted from this deal, there will be NO WAY BACK. Even if Labour repeals the NHS Privatisation Act, we will still be liable to be sued under competition laws if American Healthcare Companies, many of whom have been convicted of fraud, get a foothold in the market through the EU-US Trade Deal.

5. The time frame we are looking at is that they expect to complete negotiations by the end of next year. This particular trade deal is progressing at break-neck speed. The reason it is able to do so is because it is shrouded in secrecy. People do not know what is going on. We are looking at things like the Balcombe anti-fracking protests being completely and utterly useless because a firm like Cuadrilla can potentially sue us for not accepting their business. The only hope for our NHS is for it to be exempted. However, this govt would be clearly be more than happy for it to be sold off. If the NHS is tangled up in this, that’s it. Game over.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:
Documents “released in error” relating to the deal: http://corporateeurope.org/trade/2013/10/ttip-documents-released-european-commission

And leaked documents relating to the mandate to set up this Trade Deal which none of us voted for:
http://www.citizen.org/leaked-trade-negotiation-documents-and-analysis
Stateless Power: http://freecriticalthinking.org/daily-pickings/719-stateless-power
The Poverty of Capitalism by John Hilary
Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World Book by Nicholas Shaxson

For the longer two hour livestream.
Part 1: What is a Free Trade Agreement.
Part 2: Linda Kaucher
Part 3: Questions and Answers.

THE BRUSSELS BUSINESS DOCUMENTARY. The Lobby Industry. Published on 15 Jun 2013.
Documentary on the issue of lobbying around the European institutions in Brussels. Watch it here 

Here are some other personal responses and a useful link sent in response to the event / topic:

A) Web of Power related info at 
http://freecriticalthinking.org/daily-pickings/719-stateless-power

B) The proposed agreement being very similar in many aspects to the MAI Multilateral Agreement on Investments which was defeated by the alter-globalisation movement by way of mass mobilisation in Vancouver during the APEC Asia Pacific Economic Community trade meeting (held in part on a university campus, can you imagine them trying that today?!) in 1997. 

The MAI would have allowed sovereign governments to be sued by corporations if they made laws to protect labour rights or the environment which impinged on corporate profits. 

I was fortunate to be at that creative week of demonstrations which featured a Goddess of Democracy, Dictator-Free Zone, Grannies singing for Democracy, devils on stilts with little red placards saying ‘I heart the MAI’, a girl with a paper mache gun on her head dancing an Irish jig with a real police officer, fences near to the Lunch with Dictators being pulled down, rumours of snipers on the roof at the University of British Columbia but also an amazing tented village on the campus there too, and much more. People from all over the world including the Zapatistan and many other indigenous communities were present. 

This was a pre-cursor to the Battle of Seattle, and it inspired and changed my life both in its creative and democratic content, global consciousness in solidarity and also of course the fact that it won!

The issues the MAI raised were profound and they need to be re-visited (along with all the other additional / different nasties it contains) in a big way and into the MSM if we are to stop it. 

Are there any key dates or global meetings coming up when the negotiators are going to be in the public spotlight?

C) in response to A):

1. Yes, it’s a follow-up to the MAI, the creation of the World Trade Organisation (and the success so far of the developing-country majority to prevent conclusion of its ‘Doha Round’ of renegotiations), and a series of other so-called regional agreements allowed by the WTO.  These include the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the new EU-Canada agreement and a series of European Partnership Agreements (EPAs) which the EU attempted (with partial success) to foist on countries in the developing world.
 
2. I don’t know of any big meetings coming up.  The last round of talks had to be scrapped earlier this month because Republican Congressmen had closed down their country’s government.  Now the Europeans are jumping up and down over US spying, which is making it harder for further talks to go ahead.  Watch this space!

NB. – we have been advised that UK unions RMT and Unite are committed to fighting a the US-EU Free Trade Agreement.