TTIP on the horizon
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is being discussed in Washington, D.C. with once more due to European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström’s visits to the Hill.
After months of having put negotiations on hold after Trump was elected President, the European Trade Commissioner has setup meetings with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Senate Majority Whip and NAFTA-enthusiast John Cornyn (R-Texas), Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senate Finance Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
TTIP is a secretive trade deal being negotiated between the European Union and the United States which analysts say would result in devastating consequences for the European Union’s regulatory capacities. This is what Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, had to say about TTIP following a major leak of the deal’s contents:
The leaked TTIP text confirms that the United States is trying to export its failed regulatory model. If the United States succeeds in its project, Big Business will gain enormous power to block, slow, undermine and repeal European regulations.
The leaked text makes clear that there are serious issues requiring analysis in particular sectors, but also that the Regulatory Cooperation chapter poses a major threat to health, safety, environmental, labor, consumer, civil and political rights, and other regulatory protections. The U.S. proposals in the Regulatory Cooperation chapter seek to export many of the worst features of U.S. rulemaking. Read more…
Rumors of the revival of TTIP talks were also fostered by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan after a meeting in London about a potential UK-US bilateral trade agreement where he declared that “the United States will work closely with our EU friends and chart a path forward on TTIP negotiations.”
Furthermore, in a statement made to the Financial Times, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed that the United States government was interested in resuming conversations with Europe without explicitly mentioning TTIP. However, Ross made clear that the current trade priority is a renegotiation of NAFTA.
NAFTA and the Chamber of Commerce
NAFTA isn’t only a top priority for Commerce Secretary Ross, Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue gave a speech before the American Chamber of Commer of Mexico on Monday assuring Mexican business leaders that “there is a very constructive process underway behind the scenes.”
The reassurances come a week after Trump reiterated his opposition to NAFTA in Wisconsin amidst a bitter discussion with the Canadian government over trade regulations in the dairy industry. “We are going to make some very big changes or we’re going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all,” Trump told the crowd.
Donohue’s speech was meant to reassure Mexican business leaders that the President’s remarks would not harm their interests. These remarks and meetings are particularly worrisome in the context of the Chamber of Commerce’s large scale lobby efforts in Washington. According to Politico Influence, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranked first in the list of top spenders on lobbying in the first quarter of the year with expenditures of $17.2 million.
Additionally, earlier this month, the Department of Commerce asked industry leaders for recommendations on regulations that should be cut. Unsurprisingly, environmental and labor standards topped the list by far.
Trade for People and Planet
The Trump administration is creating a smoke screen of controversy to distract the general population of how closely he is working with industry leaders behind the scenes to strip existing environmental and labor protections, to create yet another regime of corporate trade deals.
Trade deals for people and the planet must have strong environmental and labor protections in order to actually benefit the people and land that move the global economy. Democratic participation in the deal-making process is fundamental to creating a deal that takes all of our communities into account.
We seek to build consciousness of the trade policy that threatens our jobs and rights and those of people throughout the world, agreements that are built without care of the environmental destruction that industry is causing. We are preparing to take action when the time comes. Help us expand our base, send this article to a friend or loved one.