The TransAtlantic and TransPacific Trade and Investment Partnerships (TTIP and TTP) are trade agreements between the US and the EU conducted behind closed doors, shrouded in mystery. In this article, the author discusses what this means for us as citizens, and why we should be scared when armed with the necessary information to truly understand exactly why these “partnerships” exist.
The TransAtlantic and TransPacific “partnerships” are the economic and financial counterpart to Washington’s military and foreign policy push for world hegemony. TTIP and TPP are neither partnerships nor trade agreements. They are instruments of financial imperialism that, if they come into effect, subordinate the sovereignty of countries to the profits of global corporations.
The reason the “partnerships” are negotiated in secrecy without public discussions and the participation of the national legislatures is that the so-called agreements cannot stand the light of day. The reason is simple. The agreements make global corporations immune to laws and regulations that can be said to adversely impact their profits. It makes no difference whether the laws protect the environment, the safety of food and workers or are part of the social fabric. If the laws impose costs that reduce profits, corporations can sue the governments in “corporate tribunals” in which the corporations themselves serve as judge and jury.
This is no joke. Public Citizen reports that the agreements would greatly expand the privileges given to foreign corporations by the North American Free Trade Agreement under which $350 million has been paid out by governments to corporations because of costs of complying with toxic waste and logging rules, with $13 billion in claims pending.
Economist Michael Hudson cites a British study that public provision of health care, such as the UK’s National Health Service, is a TTIP target on the grounds that not only health care regulations but also public provision of health care harms the commercial interests of corporations. (http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/11/the-dangers-of-free-trade-agreements-ttips-threat-to-europes-elderly/)
TTIP and TPP are tools for disenfranchising electorates and overturning democratic outcomes and for looting taxpayers via damage suits against governments for the costs of complying with health, safety, environmental, and social laws and regulations. The agreements place corporations above the laws of countries. The agreements have the potential of producing a worldwide sweatshop with starvation wages devoid of environmental and safety legislation.
The question jumps out: How could any country’s trade representative agree to give foreign corporations control over his country’s laws? The answer is money. The reason a person wants appointment as trade representative is to be made rich by serving the interests of corporations. “Fast track” makes this easy. There are no legislators or reporters looking over the trade representative’s shoulder as he sells out his country for his price. The corporations stand to gain so much that they will pay large sums.
When the agreements are completed without anyone’s participation except the corporations, the national legislatures are only permitted to vote the agreement up or down. The legislators are told that years of hard work went into reaching the agreement and that it would be irresponsible not to support all the hard work that benefits everyone. Environmental and other public interest groups can expose the corrupt agreement, but they cannot match the corporations’ political campaign contributions or bribes. Like the trade representatives, the legislators go with the money.
We can see this already. When the TTIP negotiations began, the European Commission put a 30-year ban on public access to the proceedings. When Greenpeace secured and leaked secret TTIP documents, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, the EU’s chief negotiator, rushed to the defence of TTIP, claiming that no health, safety, or environmental standards would be harmed. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilla Malmstroem also defended TTIP against itself, as did the Independent’s Sean O’Grady in a public debate with me, despite the fact that his own newspaper published the Greenpeace leak in an article that said that the TTIP “documents show that US corporations will be granted unprecedented powers over any new public health or safety regulations to be introduced in future. If any European government does dare to bring in laws to raise social or environmental standards, TTIP will grant US investors the right to sue for loss of profits.”
It is not only the giant global US corporations who are lobbying strongly for TTIP. So are large European corporations as they also benefit. What TTIP and TTP do is to create corporate governance over nations. The New World Order will be run by corporations that sit above the laws of nations and extract money from those countries that try to protect the environment and the health and safety of citizens.
TTIP is not merely the biggest power grab in world history. It is the biggest power grab imaginable.
If accurate records were kept and released—perhaps NSA has it all—I would not be surprised if the records revealed that the main thing negotiated was the price paid to each trade representative for agreeing to sign his country up to be looted by global corporations.
Western capitalism is no longer productive and no longer serves any valid social purpose. In the US the two largest sectors, the military/security complex and the mega-banks, exist on public subsidies. The US manufacturing corporations no longer manufacture. They outsource the work and offshore the jobs. Apple Computer, for example, does not even own the Chinese factories that produce the products that Apple markets.
So many American manufacturing and middle class jobs have been offshored that the real median family income has been declining for decades. Without growth in real consumer incomes, consumer demand was maintained by the expansion of consumer debt. However, debt growth is limited by the absence of income growth and both have come to an end. Consequently, family formation is floundering. More Americans age 18-34 live at home with parents than with spouses or partners. The jobs simply do not exist to provide the income necessary for independent existence.
Western capitalism is kept going by privatisations in which public assets, such as the British postal system, are sold to favoured friends of the government for pence on the pound. Privatisation has become the rage because it is a way of producing capitalist profits by looting public assets.
Capitalism has also been kept alive by Western banking systems indebting other countries and then looting them through IMF-imposed austerity programs that require the sell-off of public assets, always at bargain prices, to Western corporations. John Perkins in his Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, explains how this operates. Currently, Greece and Portugal are the poster-children for how capitalism loots countries.
With the coup against the elected government of Brazil, that country is being set up for renewed looting by Wall Street which has succeeded in having its agents appointed to Brazil’s key monetary and financial positions. http://www.globalresearch.ca/wall-street-behind-brazil-coup-d-etat/5526715
Michael Hudson explains in his recent books the rise of “financialisation.” Financialisation capitalises largely untaxed “economic rents,” such as monopoly profits and land values, into debt instruments that pay interest and fees to banks. These income-flows into banks deprive the consumer economy of purchasing power and result in the decline of productive activity.
Having little left to loot, the purpose of TTIP and TPP is to set up governments for looting. This, of course, means the looting of the hard-pressed taxpayers of the countries whose “trade representative” got his price and signed his country up for looting.
TTIP and TPP also extend the payoff mechanism to legislators. Those who have vocal doubts can expect payments in exchange for being quiet. The obvious result of TPIP and TPP is to destroy any integrity that might still exist in government.
Some economists now advocate that not only should government functions, such as the postal service and health care, be privatised, but also that governance itself should be privatised. However, it already is. In the US the laws are written by powerful private interest groups. In Europe, EU membership destroys the sovereignty of member countries whose parliaments are subordinated to the EU. With few exceptions formerly sovereign countries are deprived of the ability to finance themselves as only the European Central Bank can create euros.
Thus, most EU members are dependent on private banks, usually foreign, for their financing. Lacking financial sovereignty, EU members are reduced to the status of ordinary debtors of private creditors and are treated as such, as the looting of Greece and Portugal testifies.
TTIP takes privatisation to a higher level outside of politics itself and places power in the hands of corporate tribunals that are accountable only to global corporations.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts attended four of the finest universities, studied under two Nobel Prize-winners in economics, authored 20 peer-reviewed articles in journals of scholarship, and published four academic press peer-reviewed books, including Harvard and Oxford Universities, and seven commercially published books. His most recent book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order: Washington’s Perilous War for Hegemony.