Posted Jul. 3, 2013 / Posted by: Naa-Okailey Annan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chevron, Dow Chemical and other multinational corporations are lobbying for a trade deal between the United States and the European Union — the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, also often referred to as the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement. The first round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership opens Monday, July 8, 2013, in Washington, D.C.
European officials have been stunned in recent days by the NSA “spy scandal” associated with these negotiations, but in many respects, the real scandal is the negotiating objectives for the transatlantic deal. In a comprehensive issue brief and three blog posts, Friends of the Earth documents the many ways in which these negotiating objectives threaten the environment and public health. Friends of the Earth is also collaborating with allies to inform the press and public in a live webcast of our Civil Society Symposium on the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement, Tuesday, July 9, 9:00am to 12:00 pm, U.S. Eastern time. Click here to RSVP and receive the webcast link.
The negotiating objectives for a TTIP agreement have little to do with free trade. Tariffs are already low between the United States and Europe, and the exchange of goods and services is robust. TTIP negotiations instead will focus on regulatory “barriers” to transatlantic trade and investment. This would result in dangerous deregulation of environmental and public health safeguards For an overview of the TTIP’s deregulatory agenda. Click here to read the issue brief, “Deregulatory disappointment: transatlantic free trade agreement negotiations.”
In particular, the TTIP poses risks to the EU’s effective approach to chemicals management. Within the TTIP, the goal of Dow and other big chemicals companies is to “harmonize down,” European chemicals regulations so that they conform with relatively low U.S. standards. Read more in this blog post, “Sinister partners: transatlantic trade agreement and toxic chemicals.”
Similarly, Chevron and other giant energy companies are lobbying for a transatlantic investment chapter that will allow them to sue governments if environmental or other regulations interfere with their expected future profits by, for example, restricting oil and gas drilling, imposing pollution and oil spill controls, or constraining the use of hydraulic fracking techniques to extract natural gas and oil from shale formations. Read more in this blog post, “Chevron fracks Europe: Transatlantic trade and investment agreement favors big energy companies and threatens the environment.”
TTIP negotiations also could open the door wide for gene patents, as well as trade in genetically engineered food and products based on synthetic biology. This could threaten ecosystems, public health and the livelihoods of small farmers, among other unintended and even frightening consequences. The TTIP regime for sanitary measures also could impact EU food safety measures that the United States deems as trade barriers, including restrictions on imports of beef treated with growth hormones, chicken washed in chlorine and meat produced with growth stimulants (rectopamine). Read more in this blog post, “Free Trade in frankenfish: Trans Atlantic free trade agreement could be a monster.”
Finally, an overarching concern regarding TTIP negotiations is transparency. In the current negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership, the United States’s other major regional trade pact, the TPP negotiating text is kept secret. Policymakers and civil society groups have called on TTIP negotiators to ensure that negotiating documents are made public and that they pursue an open and transparent process.