Thursday 22 January 2015
TTIP People Before Profit submission 2 Goverments select committe into TTIIP
This submission is on behalf of Lewisham People Before Profit. LPBP is a campaigning organisation made up of ordinary people of Lewisham. We are a non-profit making organisation and political party which has stood in local, Mayoral and GLA elections.
Our policies aim to address the problems of Lewisham people and are firmly rooted in our understanding of the national and the global crises: the economic and financial crisis, the environmental crisis and the crisis of poverty and inequality.
LPBP helps people to help themselves and has played a significant part in organising and campaigning to save the local hospital, as well as other housing and local amenity protection. Some members are also very actively involved in running a food bank for the working and non-working poor of the borough and environs.
A key belief of our organisation is that the private sector is not a force for good in running public and essential services. Its primary motivations of profit and reward for shareholders take precedence and tax payer’s monies are used for these purposes instead of solely providing a good service. The altruistic and vocational essence that is present in most public service organisations and their staff is not present to the same degree in private sector companies.
In summary, LPBP holds the following views in relation to the TTIP:
1. LPBP opposes TTIP, with or without the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
2. As TTIP appears to have a key aim of opening services, including Public services, up to the private sector, it will be detrimental to the service quality and uneconomic as taxes will be diverted to pay profits and dividends. The obligation for equal treatment, enshrined in TTIP, will lead to governments having to fund any company that successfully seeks to run a public service, if previously it did so; a school or university for example.
3. TTIP is uncompetitive and could destabilise local economies. It would interfere with local council’s efforts to buy locally or prioritise local businesses and labour.
4. Projected benefits are small compared to the potential losses as public services are taken over by private corporations whose actions are one or more steps removed from the democratic process of central or local government.
5. It is our belief that similar ‘trade’ agreements have tended to benefit the bigger economies (often host of the bigger corporations) to the detriment of smaller or less developed economies. That said, there is research that indicates that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) showed a net loss of over a million jobs in the USA in the first 12 years. At the same time, Mexican farmers were undermined by subsidised US agricultural goods and 5 million jobs were lost.
6. It is clearly stated, for example by the CBI, that there are few barriers to trade between Europe and the USA. Begging the question as to why the TTIP is necessary. It appears that it is more about so-called ‘harmonising’ of trading regulations and that in all likelihood this will lead to a ‘race to the bottom’, as US companies will want the relatively progressive and generous standards for employment, food quality, H&S, environmental protections, etc. to be reduced, not increased; in order to enhance profit margins.
7. It is notable that the one area where the UK could benefit from more rigorous regulation is in the financial sector which the UK has sought to exclude from TTIP. It has actively chosen not to seek exclusion of the NHS from TTIP in the same way that France is seeking exemption for its film industry.
8. Like other critics, and in keeping with the millions of people across Europe who gave their view on Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), we believe this is a wholly undemocratic device which risks deterring local and national governments from taking actions that are wanted by their electorate, if they might fear financial repercussions in the form of a company ‘suing’ them through the ISDS trade tribunals. It is clear from examples across the globe that these actions can run in to the billions of pounds and would be ruinous for local governments, and even national governments would be likely to moderate their actions or legislative agenda rather than risk being successfully sued.
9. Sadly, it would seem many of our elected representatives are either so enthralled with promoting big business and corporatisation at the expense of democracy or so poorly informed that they are not aware of the true risks from TTIP. It is difficult to be well informed as the process of the negotiations have been shrouded in secrecy and even the limited efforts now to provide some information about ‘negotiating positions’ are woefully inadequate. It is a disgrace when our elected reps and opinion formers are so badly informed.
In sum, the view of this organisation, and that of many working to stop TTIP, coincides with those of the major political parties in the UK, TheCityUK and European Commission; that TTIP is important for UK consumers, but for the rather different reason that it seems likely to do them harm, not good as they assert.
We have been reading extensively on this issue – documents from both ‘sides’ – and have observed the workings of similar trade treaties in other parts of the world, so we are unconvinced by the bald, unsubstantiated statements produced by those in favour of TTIP, many of which are based on partial information on which there is now considerable counter-evidence.
Lead on TTIP