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Packed meeting hears of threat posed by TTIP

Last Friday, 30 January, a crowded public meeting at Friends House, Cedar Road, Sutton, heard about the likely results of Europe signing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Three speakers, John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, Linda Kaucher, researcher in EU’s trade agreements, and Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London and campaigner on effects of TTIP, gave detailed information about TTIP and answered questions.

TTIP is a treaty being negotiated, largely in secret, between Europe and USA. Part of it, the investor state dispute settlement (ISDS), will allow multi-national companies to sue a government for potential loss of profits if it decides on policies that the companies dislike. Already under similar agreements the Australian government is being sued by Philip Morris, the American tobacco company, for introducing plain cigarette packs and the German government is being sued by a Swedish company for giving up nuclear power.

If the agreement goes through we will be open to similar attacks, particularly to do with privatisation of health and other services. It is planned that under the agreement cases will be heard not by open national courts but by assemblies of corporate lawyers.

It was originally claimed that the agreement would increase the number of jobs in this country but a recent report has shown it will most likely reduce employment here by 600,000 and by 300,000 in the USA. It has been shown that the original assumptions were incorrect and now it is reliably reported that not even the government departments promoting TTIP believe the information favourable to TTIP.

Meetings to inform people of what is being proposed are happening all over Europe and there have been several major demonstrations on the streets of Germany and elsewhere. Our Health Service, Social Services and other Local Authority services are likely to be disadvantaged and many democratic decisions in parliament will no longer be possible because of the fear of billions of pounds in potential fines.

The Economist, usually a champion of corporate power and trade treaties, calls ISDS “a way to let multinational companies get rich at the expense of ordinary people”.

The well-attended meeting was organised by Sutton for Peace and Justice to raise awareness of the threat posed by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership proposals.

Report by Michael McLoughlin, michaelmcloughlin@hotmail.com

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