Food and services under threat from trade deals

| 25th October 2018
Liam Fox
A Trans-Pacific Partnership deal would 'threaten food standards and public services'.

Our fear is that this is an attempt to [...] force post Brexit UK down the road of a deregulated US-style economic regime which we know Dr Fox supports.

A government proposal to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership risks a ‘race to the bottom’ in food and financial standards post-Brexit, campaigners have warned.

The deal also poses threats to the NHS and other public services, and would leave Britain at the mercy of a ‘corporate court’ system which would allow overseas business to sue the British government in secret courts for regulations which they believe damage their profits.

Responding to a consultation from the Department for International Trade which proposes acceding to the Trans-Pacific Partnership,  campaign groups War on Want, Global Justice Now and Trade Justice Movement also suggested that signing the TPP ‘jumps the gun’ in terms of public debate about how close we stay to the EU’s common rulebook post Brexit, and would make a European customs union far more difficult to agree.

Corporate systems

The new briefing finds the TPP would entrench the ‘corporate court’ system that gives multinational corporations special powers to bully and sue governments; undermine food standards – threatening to allow chlorine chicken and steroid-fed beef into the UK, lowering the quality of food and jeopardising farmers’ livelihoods; and undermine public services across the world – threatening the NHS and the ability of the developing countries in the deal to build their own public services

It would also give more power to big tech companies to use and abuse our data, and prevent developing countries from building their digital sectors, which are vital for their development and move Britain closer to a US-style system of deregulation that would make it harder to work closely with the EU

Jean Blaylock, from War on Want, said: We are right in the middle of a huge political debate about how close the UK stays to its EU trade relationships post-Brexit.

"Parliament has not yet made a decision on this issue. So it’s completely premature for the Department for International Trade to suggest we should join a trade deal which would make it near impossible to keep our current standards and continue to be aligned to the EU rulebook.

"Our fear is that this is an attempt to prejudge that decision and force post Brexit UK down the road of a deregulated US-style economic regime which we know Dr Fox supports.” 

Nick Dearden, from Global Justice Now, said: The hard Brexiteers believe that Brexit can achieve all manner of miracles – but the idea of Britain as a pacific state is surely far fetched even for them.

"Here in Europe we defeated a very similar deal to this – called TTIP – because we didn’t want big business to have more control over our laws, our public services and our societies. Liam Fox obviously hopes enough people are looking the other way so he can begin to sign us up to something equally toxic. But if he’s serious, we’ll fight this deal every step of the way.” 

A DIT spokesperson told The Ecologist: “We have been clear we will not lower food, animal welfare or environmental standards as part of any free trade agreement. Maintaining them is the right thing to do for our consumers and maintains the UK’s world-renowned reputation for high-quality products.”

This Author

Marianne Brooker is a contributing editor for The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from War on Want. 

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