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 Donald Trump has been very upbeat about the prospect.
“We have been working on a trade deal which will be a very, very big deal a very powerful deal, great for both countries and I think we will have that done very, very quickly.”
But what kind of deal? And ‘great’ for who? In all likelihood, we are facing something even worse than TTIP – a veritable Trump-TIP!
Widespread complaints have forced the government to reassure us that we will not be subjected to chlorine washed chicken from the US, but this is a minor aspect of a much larger problem. The whole philosophy of animal farming in the US is radically different from the one we enjoy in the UK. Chlorine washing is a substitute for hygienic rearing conditions. Other problems include inadequate food labelling and the overuse of antibiotics.
Despite his election rhetoric against Wall Street and the corporation-sponsored Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Trump’s agenda is one of economic nationalism, rather than trade justice. He has filled his cabinet with multi-millionaires while stocks in fossil fuels, pharmaceuticals and finance have risen since his election. On the one hand, he will be seeking to protect vulnerable US industries, on the other, he will continue to promote the interests of US trans-national corporations.
We can expect Trump-TIP to include:
- Further attacks on climate change regulations;
- A return to the lack of financial regulations that led to the 2008 crash;
- An increase in the power of corporate courts that allow foreign corporations to challenge social, environmental and public health policies, outside the normal judicial system;
- A rolling back of internet privacy protections;
- Measures to lock in privatisation of public services such as the NHS.
This deal will be one of the biggest struggles we face in the near future.
Cartoon: Steve Bell, Guardian