UK's Secret TTIP Assessment: No Benefits, Plenty of Risks

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UK's Secret TTIP Assessment: No Benefits, Plenty of Risks

'Yet again this toxic trade deal is exposed as being full of harmful consequences for ordinary people'

Protesters in Germany rally against the TTIP. (Photo: campact/flickr/cc)

The TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would have "lots of risks and no benefits" for the UK, according to a government analysis released publicly Monday through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the advocacy group Global Justice Now.

The only assessment of the TTIP conducted by the UK government on the risk of introducing a closed corporate court system described as "investor protection," found that:

  • There is little reason to think that an EU-US investment chapter will provide the UK with significant economic benefits.
  • There is little reason to think that an EU-US investment chapter will provide the UK with significant political benefits.
  • There is some reason to expect an EU-US investment chapter will impose meaningful economic costs on the UK. Based on Canada’s experience under NAFTA, we would expect an EU-US investment chapter to be regularly invoked by US investors against the UK for governmental actions that would normally not be challengeable under UK law.

"All in all, it is doubtful UK investors will find additional protections from an EU-US investment protection treaty beyond those currently provided, and enforced, under U.S. law," according to the 2013 study (pdf), conducted by the London School of Economics and commissioned by the government's Department for Business Industry and Skills (BIS).

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Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said, "Introducing a system of secret corporate courts under the TTIP would be a fundamental shift in trade and legal policies, so it's staggering that the government is pushing us into it with almost no assessment of what the risks are for our policy makers or the tax payers. What's even worse is that the one assessment that the government has commissioned shows that there are lots of risks and no benefit."

"Yet again this toxic trade deal is exposed as being full of harmful consequences for ordinary people, and new powers and privileges for corporate elites," Dearden said.

War on Want campaign director John Hilary told Morning Star, "This confirms that David Cameron has been misleading British citizens when talking up the benefits of TTIP."

"We have challenged the UK government time and again to show us any evidence that TTIP will be good for ordinary people," Hilary said. "Now we know why it has failed to provide that evidence—because they have none."

Opponents of TTIP fear that the investor protection component, formally known as the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), would give corporations the power to sue governments over national policies that affect the companies' profits.

For example, under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which includes similar investor protections, tobacco giant Philip Morris sued Uruguay and Australia in 2010 and 2012, respectively, over their health warnings on cigarette packages. Australia won its legal battle against the company in December 2015, while the fight in Uruguay remains ongoing.

Monday's revelations came as U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi convened in Germany to discuss the deal. Obama over the weekend attempted to peddle the TTIP as being an "indisputable" benefit to the economy.

TTIP negotiators are in New York now until Friday for the 13th round of talks on the deal.

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