A World of Shadows

Have you heard of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? Probably not. The negotiations are being conducted secretively, in a shadowy world behind closed doors, so they’re not exactly front page news. But they should be, because they represent another concerted push by corporations to undermine our democratic systems.

The United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries (Canada, Mexico, Chile, Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Japan and Brunei) are currently involved in negotiations about the TPP, while the US and 28 member states of the European Union are haggling over the terms of the TTIP (also known as the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement).

Supporters argue they will “harmonise” (code for reduce) trade restrictions and increase world trade, making us all better off. Aye right. You want to pass a law saying cigarettes should be sold in plain packages? Forget it, you won’t be able to. You’ll be subject to a legal challenge, You want labelling of GM foods? Ditto. You want to pass laws to stop fracking? Ditto again. Basically, any laws which hurt the corporate bottom line will be challenged and overturned if these “partnerships” are signed.

Worryingly, a bill has recently been introduced in the US Congress to fast track the TPP, effectively side-lining any meaningful Congressional discussion. Corporate lobbyists have been working hard to influence the levers of power and it won’t be surprising if something similar happens with the TTIP. In this world of shadows it seems anything is possible if you can keep it quiet enough for long enough.