Demand protections in trade deals

The fact that the Democrat controlled US Congress was able to have these employment protection provisions included in the NAFTA-2 deal shows that international trade deals can include human rights provisions. And if human rights, why not environmental protections? We must demand such provisions for all the trade deals currently being negotiated.

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Computer says “no”

It is gradually dawning on the media that computer algorithms are taking greater and greater control of our lives. The Guardian reported recently that the UK immigration service has decided to improve its software in order to eliminate an algorithm that implemented racist practices employed by the service. This is, of course, to be applauded.... Continue Reading →

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Now we see through a glass darkly (write to a Peer)

The Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) Convener Dr Patricia Ranald complains that Europeans know more about Australian trade negotiations than Australians do. AFTINET found out that the EU is pushing for longer monopolies on medicines in negotiations with Australia because the EU has said so. The Australian Government has said nothing publicly. The... Continue Reading →

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Trade and climate change: “They are the same”

The UK is going to be signing a lot of new treaties in the near future.  Negotiations will be done in secret and the Government will do its best to smuggle in the new laws without parliamentary or public scrutiny.  They will be able to do this because Parliament currently has no right to vote on trade treaties.

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Will the House of Commons kill trade democracy?

When Britain left the EU on the 31st January this year we were promised a return of sovereignty. Yet every sign is that the Government is intent on selling off our rights to foreign companies. From our NHS, to our justice system, to our food, farming and environmental standards, everything we cherish is threatened. How... Continue Reading →

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Who will do more for the victims of climate breakdown?

The decision of Kiribati, a small but widespread nation of tiny Pacific islands, to recognise China and cut relations with Taiwan, has drawn international attention. While the focus has been mainly on the consequences for global power politics, there has been some speculation as to what Kiribati hopes to gain from the move. The Guardian... Continue Reading →

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Patients not profits in the coronavirus crisis

We are probably as much as 18 months away from an effective vaccine for COVID-19, but the struggle has already begun to ensure that when it is developed it will be available to all. Please sign the petition to ensure that patents and big pharma profits don’t get in the way of delivering treatment to... Continue Reading →

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Stop the US-UK trade deal – write to your MP

UK-US trade negotiations began this week in the midst of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis. Jean Blaylock of Global Justice Now, says: "This would be a high risk trade deal at the best of times, but to try and embark on negotiations in the midst of a pandemic crisis when government and society are stretched to... Continue Reading →

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Brits fear low quality US meat

More than four fifths (81%) expressed concerns about lower food standards in a Savanta Com Res poll commissioned by UNISON last month. Over half (52%) want tighter regulations after Brexit, while a third (34%) say the UK current rules should be maintained. Just 3% favour the Government policy of lowering standards to allow dodgy US... Continue Reading →

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Fair trade v child labour

Are you supporting a system in which children are forced to work eight hours a day instead of attending school? If you drink tea or coffee, or eat chocolate, you may be inadvertently doing just that. A new investigation by Channel 4 Dispatches visited 12 farms in Guatamala which supply the two companies - and... Continue Reading →

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The ‘free’ port scam

Boris Johnson is now proposing so-called 'free' ports for the UK. He claims that he can't do this under EU rules, but that is a lie. There are in fact 82 free ports in the EU, though there are none in the UK. The Government claim that these 'do as you like' ports will boost... Continue Reading →

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Will Johnson’s Brexit deal include corporate courts?

The British Government has announced it wants a "Canada-style" trade deal with the EU.  Effectively, that means some version of CETA, even though Canada has said it wants to renegotiate the deal with Britain after Brexit.  CETA (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) between Canada and the EU and already partly in force in the... Continue Reading →

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Trade agreements could include commitments on climate change

The EU has already suggested including a reference to the Paris agreement in the FTA with Australia and in November last year France's Foreign Minister stated that the FTA should include "highly ambitious" action on climate change. More on greening world trade Image: "Bush fires take hold..." by luke is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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The real threats to the NHS

A popular slogan among supporters and defenders of our National Health Service is 'The NHS is not for sale'.  This is seen as a likely outcome of post-Brexit trade negotiations with the US.  But Trump's trade agenda poses threats that are at once more subtle and more deadly than the slogan implies. Say no to... Continue Reading →

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Is ISDS above the criminal law?

The website Complete Music Update highlights a move by music streaming company Tidal to sue the Norwegian Government under the provisions of a bilateral treaty it has with Poland. The site reports: This all relates to those claims that the Jay-Z owned streaming firm skewed the listening stats for two albums on which it had... Continue Reading →

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Working and dying for fashion

It is now six years since 1136 working people died and another 2500 were injured in the collapse of the Rana Plaza Building in Dhaka Savar. While it was not the first such disaster to strike the garment industry, its sheer scale sent shock waves across the world. Furious consumers demanded that high street brands... Continue Reading →

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Put Patients before Patents

In 2017/18 the NHS paid big pharma £1.1 billion for the five most expensive cancer medicines. Three of these drugs were developed with public funding. High drug prices are crippling NHS budgets and leaving people across the world unable to afford life-saving medicines.  Globally, millions of people die every year because they cannot afford the... Continue Reading →

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Global warming and regulatory chill

Westmorland Coal are in a fix. In 2013, the Denver-based company bought five coal mines in Alberta. Two years later the provincial government announced that it would phase out coal-fired power by 2030, as part of a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change. Since Alberta does not have the infrastructure to export coal, that means... Continue Reading →

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Death of a village and other legal crimes

Roşia Montană has been around for almost 2000 years, on the 6th February it celebrated its 1888th year of existence. Yet trans-national corporation Gabriel Resources want to wipe it out by digging the largest open-cast gold mine in Europe and forcing the population to relocate. The company is planning to use the deadly poison cyanide... Continue Reading →

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US conglomerate sues tiny Rwanda

A group of US investors, trading as Bayview Group and Natural Resources Development, are suing Rwanda for $95 million at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Rwanda has been reforming its mining sector to attract more investment and this corporate court action will be a major setback.  The Rwandan Government has pointed... Continue Reading →

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Is Fairtrade worthwhile?

According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, there are over 400 voluntary sustainability schemes (VSS), such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance, operating across the world. These markets are showing exponential growth, as consumers vote with their pockets, to demand better treatment for producers and higher environmental standards. But a recent article in Ghana Business... Continue Reading →

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Solidarity with Assam tea workers

Assam is one of the poorest states in India, with 1 in 3 living below the Indian poverty line. Dramatic reductions in poverty between 1994 and 2005 have now slowed almost to a standstill and Assam is lagging behind other Indian states. Tea estate workers are in a particularly bad position, being subject to the... Continue Reading →

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The enclosure of knowledge (2): Big Pharma

A major aim of so-called 'free' trade treaties is to enforce pharmaceutical patents and thus end access to cheap generic medicines. For many in low and medium income countries, this means ending access to medicines altogether. Even for those of us lucky enough to live in a wealthy country like the UK, it can sometimes... Continue Reading →

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The Threats from a US trade deal

Brexit has revealed an almost total lack of democratic control over UK trade policy. Theresa May is intent on negotiating new trade deals behind closed doors, with minimal opportunity for Parliament to examine or challenge them.  One of the most important of these deals will be the one that is struck with the USA and... Continue Reading →

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What are corporate courts?

Corporate courts are a tribunals run by corporate lawyers for the benefit of giant trans-national corporations (TNCs) and rich investors. They allow foreign companies to sue national governments and overrule domestic laws and regulations that reduce their profitability.  They are used by the powerful TNCs to prevent regulations protecting consumers, workers, livestock or the environment.... Continue Reading →

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