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How TTIP, TPP, TISA, CETA and other trade deals should be negotiated

We are not just against any and all trade deals

Wednesday 17 June 2015, by mond

A lot has been written on what is bad about TTIP, CETA, TISA, TPP, etc. Some
people accuse us about being opposed to any trade deal at all. To repute
this let us imagine for a moment on how such trade deal would ideally look
like and how they should have been negotiated.

Who would participate in such negotiations?

Up until around 2009 the US and Europe tried to impose their neoliberal
agenda onto the world via WTO negotiations. The general idea there was to
create deals that would favor the rich and powerful countries in the long
run. To gain the support of the disadvantaged poorer countries the deals
usually contained some bargaining to give them some short term incentives
(and most likely in some cases also outright bribes) to sign the deals.

After around 2009 the poorer countries organized themself and where more and
more reluctant to sign deals that where not favorable for their country. So
the process got stuck. The rich and powerful nations like US and EU had no
interest in a fair world market and the less rich and less powerful could no
longer be easily bribed to act against their interest.

This is when the US started to shift their focus on deals like ACTA, TTIP,
TISA, TPP, etc.. that where negotiated without the participation of poorer
countries. Due to their economic power, these rules would still affect the
poorer countries but they would not have a say in it.

So as a result new trade agreements should be negotiated with the
participation of all interested countries.

Of course we also need experts from civil society participating within this
process. NGOs, trade unions, etc.

How should such deals be negotiated?

Usually such trade deals are used for so called "policy laundering". Most
of the stuff that is in such deals is widely unpopular as it is directed
against the interest of the majority of people while a small majority of rich
is profiting from this. In a democracy it is not so easy to propose
unpopular things as there could be some resistance from the voters.

So trade deals are a nice way around this. The bad stuff is proposed in
secret meetings. Once the final trade deal is presented each of the
negotiation parties can argue that the bad stuff was not proposed by them
but was the result of a compromise solution. This way the corrupt political
class has an easy way of proposing legislation without the risk of being
held directly responsible for it.

To avoid the "policy laundering" it is of uttermost importance that all
these deals will be negotiated with a maximum of transparency. Not only is
is necessary that the draft texts of the deal is always available to the
public, it is even necessary that there is log of who proposed what and why.
We also need to know who voted in favor or against including or excluding
some provision into the text.

Of course each of the negotiating parties should come to the table with a
clear and democratically established mandate of what to archive within the
negotiations. We should also expect that we get regular
reports on how their actions (proposed provisions and the voting on the
provisions of others) fits within their mandate.

I would argue that any trade deal that would be negotiated in this way would
not be that bad. This is of course is the reason why the ruling elites will
never agree to do negotiations this way. It would take away one of their
most important tools do subvert the democratic process.

So if we want our democracy back we should just demand this level of
transparency from any new trade deal. We should not accept any deal that was
not produced with this level of transparency.

What should be the content of such trade deals?

A lot of problems that we face right now are global ones. Climate change does
not stop at national boarders. The competition between nation states leads
to race to the bottom in environmental and safety standards, labor laws and
wages. Half of the people on this planet live in poverty and around 10
million are starving each year.

What we would need in international trade deals would be provisions to
counter these tendencies: To establish mandatory minimum standards in wages,
labor laws, environmental protection, individual freedoms and human rights.

The division of labor and free trade can improve efficiency and create more
wealth for all of use as much as they can be harmful. The main purpose of
these trade deals needs to be to make sure that we all profit from this and
not just a very tiny elite.

Given the unbelievable outrages scandal that millions of people are starving
on this planet, of course we need to make sure that it is first and foremost
the poorest people on this planet who can profit from such deals.

TTIP, TPP, TISA, CETA and all the other current and recent trade deals are
almost 180 degrees opposed to everything that is written above. So we have
to get rid of them in order to make room for something good.

Arbitration Tribunals?

Well, with a trade treaty that is built like the one above one would expect that it contains good things and after all it would not hurt if those could be enforce. So the idea of some arbitration body or court would make sense. But certainly no one would put the representatives of private corporations in such a position as those are the ones that are most likely to violate such treaties.

— Franz Schäfer (Mond), June 2015

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