1504 Mega regional trade agreements: a worsening economic war that dares not speak its name

tl_files/aefjn-images/aa/AEFJN photo logo final.jpgThe mega, regional free-trade agreements (TPP, TTIP, TISA) that are increasingly being discussed are a global geo-political strategy thought up by the US and industrialised countries to stem the rise of emerging countries : China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Turkey, etc. The latter are displaying an impressive determination to achieve commercial power. The global trade of the future is being shaped beneath this shadow. Not only is this going to upset the balance of power in a World Trade Organisation that has been weakened by Southern resistance to including services (they would prefer to discuss agriculture and food security); these agreements will also have a decisive influence on the political economy and governance of these countries.


No region of the world will be spared and the democratic system of each country as well as their sovereignty will be subjected to painful concessions. This will be the basis of a multipolar free trade system with minimal trade rules and a biased supervisory body for disputes. Africa, poorly prepared, will once again be passed over, preference going, as we already see, to China, Brazil and Turkey.


What are these agreements currently under negotiation? In 2010, the US launched negotiations for the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) with a dozen countries in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding China). Since then, Japan, Mexico and Canada have joined in. Together, these countries represent 40% of the global GDP and 20% of world trade. Negotiations cover industrial goods, services, investment, public procurement, state enterprises, intellectual property, etc.


In 2013, the US and the EU launched a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP / TAFTA) that could be worth 45% of global GDP. This mega-agreement aims to remove all barriers to imports, including health and safety rules (e.g. chlorinated chicken), environmental considerations (GMOs), those of the Labour Law of the ILO and reduced social insurance in line with the US government ... This would also affect production regulations and utilities (compulsory education, water supply, transport, etc.) This Treaty, which has already attracted enormous resistance, could be ratified by Parliament European in the next 3 or 4 years, and by national parliaments for certain issues.


To this we can add the negotiations of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), initiated by fifty countries including Switzerland and negotiated outside the WTO in secret. It could also deregulate public services, financial services, state enterprises, government procurement, etc. For NGOs and trade unions, it also threatens the social and environmental standards, the protection of workers and consumers, privacy ...


Switzerland is not part of the two major regional agreements, but of course still follows closely the TTIP (US-EU) as it could be affected by it (remember the Cassis de Dijon case?). Finally, there are the EU's Economic Partnership Agreements with Africa (EPAs), negotiated with great difficulty, which are in the same spirit.


Reading the contents of these mega-regional trade agreements is enough to make one dizzy. Are we going to sell off our democratic independence, our freedom to choose our education, health programs, and the quality of our food? Are we going to allow the particularly harsh repercussions for all small producers throughout the world and for food security?


All this in order to be invaded by American "services" that proliferate in the United States (e.g. Uber taxis)? The goal is a search for growth by opening new, fiercely competitive markets, but, it seems, with a greater financial advantage for American than for European families. Can you believe it? Switzerland can only join such agreements with extreme caution, even if it could still legislate we are told. We are involved in a worsening economic war that dares not speak its name and there will be many losers who will be called "modern slaves", "the outraged" or "jihadists" depending on where they are in the world ...


Christine von Garnier


February 2015                  


Réseau Afrique Europe Foi et Justice                                 


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