The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a comprehensive free trade and investment treaty currently being negotiated behind closed doors between the EU and the USA.
In February 2013, in his State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama first announced the intention to launch TTIP negotiations, and the negotiations began in July that year. The intention appears to be for discussions to happen as quickly as possible, with as little information leaking into the public domain as possible - presumably in order that the negotiations are completed before the general public in the USA and the EU discover the true magnitude of the threat posed by the TTIP.
Officials from both the USA and the EU have acknowledged, the primary intention of TTIP is not to stimulate trade through the removal of tariffs between the EU and the USA, because these are already very low. Rather it seems that the primary goal is to remove regulations which restrict the potential profits to be made by transnational corporations in both the USA and EU marketplaces. In many cases the regulations have been hard won, and for very good reason. Things such as employment rights, food safety rules (including controls on genetically modified foodstuffs), environmental controls, controls on toxic and/or hazardous chemicals, and new banking controls introduced to prevent a repeat of the 2008 global financial crash.
The stakes, in other words, could not be higher.
In addition to this deregulation agenda, TTIP also seeks to create new markets by forcing open public services and government procurement contracts to competition from transnational corporations, threatening to introduce a further wave of privatisations in key sectors, such as health and education.
Most worrying of all, TTIP seeks to grant foreign investors a new right to sue sovereign governments in front of ad hoc arbitration tribunals for loss of profits, or potential future profits, resulting from public policy decisions. This ‘investor-State Dispute Settlement’ or ISDS mechanism effectively elevates transnational corporations to a status equivalent to or greater than the nation-state itself, and threatens to undermine the most basic principles of democracy in the EU and USA alike. TTIP is therefore correctly understood not as a negotiation between two competing trading partners, but as an attempt by transnational corporations to prise open and deregulate markets on both sides of the Atlantic.
In essence, this would mean that the privatisation of our health service, and indeed the provision of schools, roads, sewerage, water, telephony, postal services and railways etc would be irreversible by any future UK government. If any element of a public service is currently open to outsourcing (i.e. contracting out to private providers), then the entire service is deemed to be within the grasp of the TTIP.
The TTIP is bad for the NHS, it's bad for public services,
but most of all it's bad for democracy
There is a growing body of concern among EU and US citizens at the threats posed by the TTIP, and civil society groups are now joining forces with academics, parliamentarians and others to prevent pro-business government officials from signing away the key social and environmental standards listed above.
KOSHH campaigners were present at an event held in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London on the 10th of October 2015, and were very pleased to hear the Labour Party Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell give his views on the TTIP. At present, the official Labour Party policy is to support the TTIP, so it was especially reassuring to hear Mr McDonnell say that he feels that the Labour party "Must oppose TTIP". We look forward to more such announcements from the Party: