Trade Justice Network on the Revived TPP Talks

On May 2 and 3, high level negotiators from 11 countries met in Toronto behind closed doors at an undisclosed location in an attempt to revive the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). The renewed talks sparked protest from the Trade Justice Network and other civil society organizations, calling these secret negotiations absurd and undemocratic.

Trade Justice Network (TJN) Co-Chair Larry Brown was interviewed on Vancouver Co-op Radio’s Redeye to discuss the problems with the TPP and the renewed negotiations. He shares the TJN’s perspective on trade agreements like the TPP, CETA and NAFTA and an alternative vision for more progressive and fair trade deals.

Listen to the interview here: https://www.spreaker.com/user/redeye/tpp-not-dead-yet

Categories TPP

Back from the grave — Secret TPP talks to resume in Toronto

Joint Media Release

As Toronto hosts two days of high-level TPP talks in an undisclosed location, civil society groups warn that TPP cannot be the basis for Canada’s future trade relationships

May 2, 2017 – High level negotiators from 11 countries are meeting in Toronto in an attempt to resuscitate the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership. The meetings will take place behind closed doors at an undisclosed location on May 2 and 3. The proposed mega-trade deal appeared to be dead after public pressure prompted the U.S. to withdraw from the pact.

The TPP sparked strong public opposition in all 12 countries. In part the criticism of the deal which could have covered 40% of the world’s trade was that it was negotiated entirely in secret and without public input. But as details of the deal began to leak out, opinion polls in most of the participating countries tracked growing public opposition.

The renewed talks have sparked protests from the Trade Justice Network and other civil society groups who warn that because the TPP was created without citizen input, it cannot be the basis for Canada’s future trade relationships with Asia-Pacific nations. The groups say it’s absurd and undemocratic for the federal government to host secret talks at a secret location on a deal that will dramatically impact the lives of Canadians.

“The TPP is only marginally about trade. It is about harmonizing standards and regulations across countries and strengthening the rights of corporations at the expense of citizens, workers, the public at large, and the environment. The costs of ratifying the TPP far outweigh any small benefit that may be gained. We urge the Trudeau government to stand up for Canadians and against the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” said Larry Brown, Co-Chair of the Trade Justice Network and President of the National Union of Public and General Employees.

“Deals like the TPP never truly die. Their destructive nature – killing jobs and the environment – lives on in other forms,” said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians. “Even without the U.S., other countries are trying to revive the dubious legacy of the TPP. It’s time they got the message: People are tired of these agreements, and we must do better.”

“TPP was a bad deal then, and it’s a bad deal now,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. “We were told we had to be in the TPP because the U.S. was in it. Now, the U.S. is out. Why would we revive a trade deal that was so bad for Canadian workers and communities? The federal government has not even completed its review of the last TPP deal. Canadians have said they do not want the TPP. The government does not have a mandate to bring this bad deal back to life.”

“The TPP is an unfair and undemocratic deal that was negotiated behind closed doors without any meaningful public participation,” said David Christopher, communications manager with OpenMedia. “Such a flawed and unpopular deal cannot be the basis for Canada’s future trade relationships. Instead of hosting secret talks to resurrect the TPP behind closed doors, the government needs to go back to the drawing board and ensure any future trade deal is shaped by citizens every step of the way.”

“Trump’s election should have triggered alarm bells in Ottawa about the dangers of pursuing trade agreements that promote corporate interests at the expense of the public’s. The Leadnow community is shocked that the government is discussing how to resuscitate the TPP – a dangerous, costly, and lopsided agreement that the public widely rejects,” said Brittany Smith, campaigner at Leadnow.

The recently published Let’s Talk TPP report, crowdsourced from nearly 28,000 Canadians, found that the most common reason for opposing the TPP was the failure of the federal government to consult with the public during TPP negotiations. Canadians also highlighted concerns around digital rights, corporate overreach, democratic accountability, healthcare and public services, the environment, labour issues, and the economy as reasons they opposed the deal.

The TPP has been criticized as a transfer of power from democratically elected national governments to multinational corporations that would result in higher drug prices, a dumbing down of national environmental and health regulations and would give corporations special rights to sue national governments without having to go through the established court system.

The TPP has also been condemned by respected citizens groups including the Sierra Club, Doctors Without Borders, the Canadian Labour Congress, the Internet advocacy watchdog Open Media, and even Canadian business tycoon Jim Balsillie and the Canadian head of the Ford Motor Company.

Canadians can tell the government to pull out of any future TPP talks at https://act.leadnow.ca/kill-the-zombie/ and can send a copy of the Let’s Talk TPP report to their MP at LetsTalkTPP.ca

 

About the Trade Justice Network

The Trade Justice Network is a network comprised of environmental, civil society, cultural, farming, labour and social justice organizations that aims to raise awareness about free trade agreements and their implications. We seek to highlight the need for a more sustainable, equitable and socially just international trade regime.

About OpenMedia

OpenMedia works to keep the Internet open, affordable, and surveillance-free. We create community-driven campaigns to engage, educate, and empower people to safeguard the Internet.

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Media Contacts

Trade Justice Network: Nadia Ibrahim, 1 (204) 803-8133, nadia.k.ibrahim@gmail.com

OpenMedia: David Christopher, Communications Manager, OpenMedia, 1 (888) 441-2640 ext. 0, david@openmedia.org

Council of Canadians: Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 1 (613) 795-8685, dpenner@canadians.org

Categories TPP

Call-Out for Trinational Meeting of Social Movements From Canada, Mexico and the United States on NAFTA

May 26 and 27, 2017 at the Palacio de Minería, Calle Tacuba 5

in the Historic Centre of Mexico City

“We call on social movements, trade unions, farmers, indigenous nations, migrants, environmentalists, human rights groups and all other interested sectors/organizations from Mexico, United States and Canada to come together to strengthen trinational work in the face of the ‘re-negotiation’ of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), an agreement that has been negative for the peoples of the three countries.

In the 23 years since NAFTA was implemented we have witnessed an unprecedented increase in profits and rights of multinational corporations, which has contributed to widening economic inequality in North America. The social, economic, and environmental impacts on working class people have been devastating, including increased poverty, exacerbating climate change, weakened labour rights and precarious employment, environmental protections eroded, and a downward spiral in terms of living standards across North America.

The NAFTA re-negotiations will have serious impacts on workers, the rights of indigenous peoples, small-scale farmers and peasants, the environment, migrant workers and many other sectors as officials from the three countries get set to negotiate behind closed doors without allowing for meaningful public consultation. Instead, we need a fundamentally new and different model of trade that prioritizes the development needs of all peoples, the protection of our planet, and the reduction of asymmetries among the three countries and within those same nations.

Networks from all three countries representing labour unions, farmers, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, human rights groups, faith based and other organizations that have been collaborating since the inception of NAFTA are issuing this call to build a broader and more diverse movement to challenge the neoliberal re-negotiation of NAFTA.

Mexican organizations, working together under the umbrella of ‘Mexico Better Off Without FTAs’ invite you to join in convening a trinational popular sector gathering to be held in Mexico City on May 26 and 27, 2017.  On May 25, some organizations will hold sectoral trinational meetings specific to labour, agriculture, migrant workers and other key areas, so consider your travel plans accordingly.

This gathering gives us all an opportunity to strategize around actions needed to build collective power based on the principles of solidarity and internationalism while sharing alternatives to the dominant neoliberal agenda.

Details about the agenda and logistics will follow. Participants must self-fund travel expenses and if possible should help organizations unable to afford travel costs. We are looking into financial support for food, lodgings and translation during the gathering. 

Please let us know if you plan to attend, and if your organization would like to join us as a co-convener and/or to participate in the event.

No more corporate-led trade agreements!”

Initial conveners include:

Canada: Common Frontiers (CF); Council of Canadians; Trade Justice Network (TJN); Réseau québéquois sur l’intégration continentale (RQIC); Alternatives; Association pour la Taxation des Transactions financières pour l’Aide aux Citoyens (ATTAC-Québec); Centre international de solidarité ouvrière (CISO); Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD); Centrale des syndicats du Québec; Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN); Conseil central du Montréal-Métropolitain (CSN); Fédération nationale des travailleurs et des travailleuses du Québec (FTQ); Génération nationale; Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec (SPGQ)

Mexico: Convergencia de Organizaciones Sociales y Ciudadanxs “México mejor sin TLC’s”, Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT), Nueva Central de Trabajadores (NCT), Asociación Nacional de Empresas Comercializadoras de Productores del Campo (ANEC), Centro de Derechos Humanos “Fray Francisco de Vitoria OP”, Red Mexicana de Acción Frente al Libre Comercio (RMALC), Red en Defensa de los Derechos Digitales R3D, Campaña Nacional Sin Maíz no hay País, Movimiento “El campo es de todos”, Consejo Nacional de Organismos Rurales y Pesqueros (CONORP), Consejo de Ejidos y Comunidades Opositores a la presa La Parota (CECOP)

United States: Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Institute for Policy Studies Global Economy Project, National Family Farm Coalition, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch

Contacts:

*Canada Raul Burbano, Common Frontiers Canada , email: burbano@rogers.com; Ronald Cameron, Réseau québécois sur l’intégration continentale, ronald.cameron.rc@gmail.com   

* United States: Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, khansenkuhn@iatp.org

* Mexico:  José Olvera: Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (STUNAM) dolmare@unam.mx; Alberto Arroyo (RMALC) alberto.arroyo60@gmail.com; Víctor Suárez (ANEC) victor.suarez@anec.org.mx

Over 450 European and Canadian civil society groups urge legislators to reject CETA

ceta-open-letter-nov-28Over 450 public interest groups from across Europe and Canada today urged legislators to vote against the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). They joined forces to defend people and planet against the threats posed by the EU-Canada agreement, which still needs to be ratified by the European Parliament. Should EU parliamentarians give the trade deal the green light, ratification votes in EU member states would follow.

In an open letter sent to legislators today, the groups express serious concerns about CETA, the ratification of which could weaken protections for workers and the environment, and provide foreign investors with extreme tools to attack public interest regulations.

The open letter highlights that:

  • CETA is no progressive trade deal but even more intrusive than the old free trade agenda designed by and for the world’s largest multinationals.
  • the deal features many worrying provisions that sideline the needs of people and planet.
  • there must be a paradigm shift towards a transparent and inclusive trade policy.

Trade unions, farmer associations, environmental and public health groups as well as human rights and digital rights organisations from both sides of the Atlantic are among the long list of signatories. Their firm rejection of CETA is exemplary for the growing opposition to the controversial agreement, which has also been criticised by legal scholars, small and medium-sized businesses, as well as a number of economists.

Trade campaigner Pia Eberhardt on behalf of signatory Corporate Europe Observatory said:

“Ratifying CETA would give corporations a carte blanche to push through their interests no matter what. CETA contains powerful tools for corporations to bully decision makers and sue for compensation if they introduce policies to protect people and the environment that may affect company profits. We would essentially see corporations hindering governments from doing the job for which they were elected.”

“In times of catastrophic climate change, rising social inequality and growing anger of those who no longer feel represented by politicians, more rights for corporations is the last thing we need.”

Larry Brown, President of the Canadian National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and Trade Justice Network also signed the letter. He added:

“We stand with European workers and members of civil society who are mobilizing against this corporate-driven trade deal, which will not benefit people. We will continue to fight the deal in Canada. We want our political leaders to move away from the failed model of past trade agreements and promote trade that benefits people and the environment.”

The General Secretary of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), Jan Willem Goudriaan, another signatory of the letter, commented:

“Trade unions have provided ample input to the CETA negotiations in order to protect public services and strengthen labour rights. But despite last-minute concessions to clarify the possible interpretation of the agreement, our concerns are not addressed in the text. CETA has become a deal that is actually detrimental to the interests of people. We therefore urge Members of the European Parliament to stand up for citizens, public services and our democracy and vote against CETA.”

Notes to Editors:

  • Read the full open letter to legislators (with links to translations into many languages, including French, German, and Spanish).
  • There has been substantial controversy in the European Parliament over the tight timetable of the CETA dossier. Coordinators of the lead committee on international trade (INTA) are expected to decide on a new schedule today (28 November). It is likely to include an INTA vote in January, following which all Members of the European Parliament would have the opportunity to vote on CETA in plenary in February.
  • Examples illustrating the broad coalition of voices criticising CETA include:

Response to Joint Interpretative Declaration on CETA

On October 5, 2016, a joint EU-Canada Declaration on CETA was released in Brussels and began to circulate publicly. The Declaration was supposed to be an official reply to the very specific amendments to CETA proposed by labour unions, parliamentarians, social justice organizations, and the public in both Canada and Europe. Instead of addressing these specific concerns, the Declaration completely ignores them.

And, in a display of arrogant condescension, the Declaration simply reiterates and clarifies what is already in the agreement, as if the various legitimate concerns that it purports to respond to have neither merit nor substance.

In light of this refusal to respond seriously to the substantiated and well-researched concerns of civil society, the members of the Trade Justice Network cannot accept this empty and meaningless Declaration as anything more than public relations. As well, as various legal scholars and trade experts have indicated, the Declaration is certainly not legally binding. This is consistent with the entire process of the CETA agreement so far. CETA was negotiated in secret, without any attempt whatsoever to include citizens, and has not taken into consideration the reasonable and legitimate amendments proposed by civil society.

Background

With the release of the CETA text on the government of Canada website, researchers, policy analysts, and interested citizens in labour unions, social justice groups, civil society organizations, and the public carefully read the agreement, identified specific areas of concern, and have repeatedly articulated these concerns in research documents, essays, and editorials. Furthermore, these specific concerns have been consistently raised with government officials in Canada and Europe in letters, public consultations, and in large-scale public protests and mobilizations, which in some cases numbered in the hundreds of thousands. At the same time, and all along, we have been proposing clear and very specific amendments to the CETA text.

Labour and civil society groups asked for specific amendments in the chapters dealing with the Investor Court System, the right to regulate, regulatory cooperation, public services, investment protection, public procurement, and labour and environmental protection. Proposed amendments to the text included language that would create binding enforcement mechanisms to protect workers’ wages and rights, to enforce health and safety standards, and to ensure environmental sustainability. Citizens in both Canada and the EU also demanded that the text be amended to remove all mention of the disturbing investor court system that bypasses our existing judicial system to give private foreign investors special legal privileges and to provide private foreign investors the extraordinary power to sue democratically elected governments for their policies and legislation.

The October 5 Declaration

In Canada, our specific concerns and proposed amendments were largely ignored by the original signatory to the agreement, Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party government. With the defeat of the Conservatives, and the election of a new government in October 2015, we were led to believe that these concerns would finally be taken seriously, and that the text could be amended. Hopes were raised when government officials signalled a willingness to listen to the specific criticisms raised in particular by the Canadian Labour Congress and its German counterpart, the DGB.

With the October 5 Declaration, it is evident that these hopes were decidedly misguided. The Declaration fails to address the shortcomings of CETA, and essentially ignores the concerns that have been raised. There is nothing whatsoever in the Declaration that acknowledges the specific demands and recommendations of civil society. There is no attempt at all to respond to proposed amendments, indeed none of the proposed amendments were even mentioned at all.

Instead the declaration touts the supposed virtues of CETA, and tries to depict it in an excessively optimistic light. The critics of CETA are served up nothing more than clarity and trite, empty reassurances: “a clear and unambiguous statement” of what was already agreed to.

Citizens and civil society groups asked for amendments. The response was stale platitudes. The Declaration simply reiterates the claims made about the supposedly wonderful social and economic benefits of CETA, without any even token attempt to validate those claims. They are true because they are stated to be true.

In other words, the Declaration is based on several patronizing assumptions: either citizens have not read the CETA agreement, or we don’t really understand what’s in it, or we just can’t see that it “promotes and protects our shared values.” The Declaration assumes that the critics are wrong, and that CETA doesn’t do what the critics allege. All these assumptions are egregiously flawed and deeply condescending.

And so the Declaration is weak and largely meaningless. And even if it wasn’t meaningless, in any case it is legally irrelevant, devoid of any legal content or significance. It does not even offer the pretext of interpreting the CETA provisions in legal terms. It does not alter or amend CETA in any substantive way, and it articulates commitments that are aspirational, non-binding, and lacking any effective legal enforcement.[1]

For all these reasons, the Declaration has to be viewed as nothing more than a public relations exercise—an attempt to mollify critics of CETA, but not to take them seriously. In the words of Greenpeace, the Declaration “has the legal weight of a holiday brochure.”

 The False Promise of Progress and Prosperity

Those who are promoting CETA typically invoke high-minded metaphors to justify what they are doing: tearing down walls, building bridges, promoting partnership and prosperity. They will also have us believe that those who oppose it are rejecting an open, modern, progressive economy.

The truth is, their words are empty rhetoric. Contrary to their heady attempt to brand their self-image, those who promote CETA are not the progressive voices of Canada. There is absolutely nothing progressive about a trade deal that gives special powers and privileges to foreign private investors, that undermines democratic and legal institutions, and that does nothing to meaningfully protect our health, our jobs, our labour standards, or our environment.

For us in Canada, what is equally perplexing is that all this is coming from a government that campaigned on a promise of “Real Change.” Regrettably, this new government has done nothing to substantively alter the very same CETA agreement negotiated by the previous Conservative government. It is more than a little bewildering how a trade deal negotiated by the Stephen Harper regime—widely recognized as one of the most reactionary governments in Canadian history—can by some magical process become a truly progressive agreement because the government—not the agreement—changed. The simple fact of the matter is that Justin Trudeau is now championing Stephen Harper’s trade deal, making a mockery of his campaign promise for “Real Change.”

As for the supposed economic benefits of CETA, the reality is that there is no clear empirical data that trade liberalization is the engine of growth, and there is no credible evidence that unregulated trade benefits everyone equally. In fact, there is lots of evidence to the contrary. The most recent example is a September 2016 study from Tufts University that predicts that CETA will result in significant job losses, slowing economic growth, and increasing inequality on both sides of the Atlantic.[2]

Despite the lofty claims, the actual legacy of the recent decades of globalized trade deals has been dismal. What these trade agreements have really done is help constitute and consolidate both income inequality and climate change on a scale unprecedented in human history. There is no evidence to support the often-cited slogan that a rising tide lifts all boats. On the contrary, what has coincided with liberalized trade deals has been the golden age of corporate wealth, greed, power, and environmental destruction. Instead of better jobs, the North American industrial heartland has witnessed shuttered factories. In their place emerged an explosion of precarious and part-time work without pensions or benefits. Wages have stagnated. Tax revenues have plummeted, and with the reduction in fiscal capacity, there have been no new social programs since 1980.

Conclusion: Meaningful Dialogue Required

If the signatories to CETA are serious about addressing the real and legitimate concerns raised by the democratic voices of Canada and the European Union, we call on them to open the agreement, enter into genuine and meaningful dialogue with civil society organizations and the public, and discuss the possibility of real amendments and changes to the text.

Larry Brown                                                      Blair Redlin

Co-Chair, TJN                                                   Co-Chair, TJN

 

Download this post as a PDF

 

[1]. See for example, Gus Van Harten, “Comments on the EU-Canada Declaration on the CETA” (Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 6/2017, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto, ON, October 8, 2016), http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2850281.

[2]. Pierre Kohler and Servaas Storm, “CETA Without Blinders: How Cutting ‘Trade Costs and more’ Will Cause Unemployment, Inequality and Welfare Losses” (GDAE Working Paper 16-03, Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University, Medford, MA, September 2016), http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/ceta_simulations.html.

Kanada darf das „grundsätzlich bedenkliche” europäische Handelsabkommen nicht ratifizieren

Kanadische Gewerkschaften erklären sich solidarisch mit den Großkundgebungen in Europa und rufen die liberale Regierung auf, das umfassende Wirtschafts- und Handelsabkommen zwischen Kanada und der Europäischen Union nicht zu ratifizieren.

Wie umstritten CETA ist, lässt sich an den über drei Millionen Europäerinnen und Europäern ablesen, die den Aufruf gegen CETA und das Zwillingsabkommen TTIP unterschrieben haben. Und der Widerstand der Europäer gegen CETA, der sich in erster Linie gegen die Investorenrechte und den mangelnden Schutz für öffentliche Dienste richtet, wächst. Diese Bedenken, die das Abkommen in Europa noch zu Fall bringen könnten, werden auf der anderen Seite des Atlantiks vom Trade Justice Network (TJN), einer Koalition kanadischer Gewerkschaften, Umweltschutz- und Bürgerrechtsgruppen, geteilt.

Angesichts eines weiteren Treffens der EU-Handelsminister in Montreal fordert das TJN die kanadische Regierung auf, CETA nicht zu ratifizieren.

„Die kanadische Ministerin für internationalen Handel Chrystia Freeland bewirbt das Abkommen zwischen Kanada und der Europäischen Union als ‚progressiv‘, aber nichts könnte von der Wahrheit weiter entfernt sein. CETA enthält in seiner derzeitigen Version grundlegende Mängel und begünstigt die Interessen der Konzerne gegenüber jenen der kanadischen Bevölkerung”, sagte der Vizevorsitzende des TJN Larry Brown.

Unsere wichtigsten Forderungen lauten:

  • Streichung aller Bestimmungen zum Investitionsschutz. Es besteht kein Grund, unsere öffentliche Gerichtsbarkeit zu umgehen und auf außergerichtliche Schiedsverfahren zurückzugreifen, die die Konzerne begünstigen. Der für CETA vorgeschlagene Investitionsgerichtshof bedeutet keine echte Verbesserung gegenüber dem bedenklichen Investor-Staat-Streitbeilegungssystem im NAFTA und anderen Handelsabkommen.
  • Schutz der öffentlichen Dienste vor Privatisierung. CETA stellt eine Gefahr für unsere öffentlichen Dienste dar, da im Falle gescheiterter Privatisierungen eine Renationalisierung bzw. eine künftige Expansion öffentlicher Dienste kaum noch möglich wären.
  • Weg mit den Patentverlängerungen für pharmazeutische Produkte. Mit dem im CETA vorgesehenen Patentschutz könnten die jährlich für unser Gesundheitssystem anfallenden Medikamentenkosten um $ 1 Milliarde und mehr steigen.
  • Schutz für das öffentliche Auftragswesen. Nach derzeitigem Stand würde das öffentliche Auftragswesen einer Regierungsbehörde bzw. eines Sektors, sofern sie nicht ausdrücklich ausgenommen sind, unter die CETA-Bestimmungen fallen. Damit werden die Rechte der Provinzen, Kommunen und anderer Einheiten beschnitten, ihre Ausgaben im Rahmen des öffentlichen Auftragswesens bestmöglich zu investieren, indem sie lokalen Gütern und Dienstleistungen den Vorzug einräumen.

Änderungen müssen an den grundlegenden Rahmenbestimmungen des Abkommens vorgenommen werden und dürfen nicht in Form rechtlich nicht bindender Zusatzabkommen, Briefe oder Erklärungen erfolgen.

„Das Trade Justice Network steht Seite an Seite mit den europäischen Arbeitnehmer/innen und Aktivist/innen der Zivilgesellschaft, die in Deutschland, Österreich, Belgien und anderswo zum Widerstand gegen CETA mobilisieren, das in vielerlei Hinsicht genauso gefährlich ist wie TTIP. Die überwältigende Ablehnung in Europa brachte die TTIP-Verhandlungen mit den USA zum Stillstand; CETA, so die Gegner, ist aber nichts anderes als TTIP durch die Hintertür”, so Blair Redlin, Vizevorsitzender von TJN.

Das Trade Justice Network ist ein Bündnis aus Umweltschutzgruppen, Organisationen der Zivilgesellschaft und indigen Bevölkerung, Kulturverbänden, Bauernbünden, Gewerkschaften und der Bewegung für soziale Gerechtigkeit; sie haben sich zusammengeschlossen, um das Ausmaß und die im Geheimen geführten Verhandlungen der meisten Freihandelsabkommen zu hinterfragen. Das Netzwerk setzt sich für eine nachhaltigere, gleichberechtigte und sozial gerechte internationale Handelspolitik ein.

Weitere Informationen (auf Englisch) bei:

Deb Duffy

613-709-0382

Canada must not ratify ‘fundamentally flawed’ European trade pact

In solidarity with mass demonstrations taking place in Europe, Canadian groups are calling on the Liberal government not to ratify the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.

CETA is highly controversial, with more than three million Europeans signing a petition against CETA and its twin agreement TTIP. And European opposition to CETA is growing, focused on the deal’s investor rights rules as well as lack of protection for public services. Those concerns, which could stop the deal in its tracks in Europe, are shared across the Atlantic by the Trade Justice Network, a coalition of Canadian unions, environmental and citizens’ groups.

As a number of EU Trade Ministers arrive in Montreal for other meeting, the TJN is calling on the Canadian government not to ratify CETA.

“Canadian International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland is pitching the Canada-EU trade deal as ‘progressive,’ but nothing could be further from the truth. CETA as written is fundamentally flawed, and favours corporate interests over those of Canadians,” said TJN co-chair Larry Brown.

Among the TJN’s key demands are:

  • Remove all investor rights rules. There is no need to bypass our public court system and use extra-judicial arbitration that favours corporations. CETA’s proposed Investor Court System is not a real improvement on flawed investor-state dispute resolution systems in NAFTA and other trade deals.
  • Protect public services from privatization.CETA puts our public services at risk by making it harder to reverse failed privatizations or expand public services in the future.
  • Stop pharmaceutical patent extensions. CETA’s patent protection provisions could increase the annual cost of pharmaceuticals in our health care system by a $1 billion or more.
  • Protect public procurement.Currently, public procurement by any government service or sector not explicitly excluded is swept into CETA. This limits the rights of provinces, municipalities, and other entities to get the most out of their procurement spending by favouring local goods and services.

Changes to CETA must be made in the body of the agreement, not in a non-binding side agreement, letter or statement.

“The Trade Justice Network stands with European workers and members of civil society mobilizing in Germany, Austria, Belgium and elsewhere to resist CETA, which has many of the same dangerous provisions as TTIP.  Overwhelming European opposition is blocking this trade deal with the U.S., and opponents recognize that CETA is simply TTIP through the back door,” said TJN co-chair Blair Redlin.

TJN statement in German

The Trade Justice Network is comprised of environmental, civil society, student, Indigenous, cultural, farming, labour and social justice organizations that have come together to challenge the scope and secret negotiating process of most free trade agreements. It emphasizes the need for a more sustainable, equitable and socially just international trade regime.

For more information:

Deb Duffy, NUPGE

613- 709-0382

 

TPP: Urgent need for full, independent assessment

Hearings into the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership kicked off in Vancouver with a stark warning from the Trade Justice Network about the deal’s many negative consequences, and an urgent call for a comprehensive, public and independent assessment of the pact.

TJN co-chair Blair Redlin told members of the House of Commons Committee on International Trade there is no rush to ratify the TPP, and every reason for a proper economic, social and environmental evaluation of the deal.

Outside the hearings, demonstrators rallied against Canada ratifying the deal, and advocacy group OpenMedia organized a giant TV screen displaying protest messages from across the country.

Redlin told the committee the TPP is not about trade, as 97 per cent of Canada’s exports to TPP countries are already duty-free. Instead the deal aims to secure and expand corporate rights and protections.

The TPP’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system will let foreign corporations sue governments if a law or regulation interferes with their investments – and profits. Under these NAFTA-style rules, Canada is already the most-sued developed country. Expanding access to this one-sided process could mean a spike in new cases.

The TPP’s controversial ISDS rules will limit government powers to regulate in the public interest, including by supporting industries that create good local jobs, and protecting the environment. A government investing in transit or wind turbines could face challenges for favouring local procurement.

Ratifying the TPP comes at a high price, said Redlin. Independent analysis of the deal has found it will:

  • cost Canada 58,000 jobs;
  • increase income inequality;
  • limit access to generic drugs, which in turn will drive up health care costs;
  • let corporations move to countries with cheaper labour and weaker labour laws;
  • hurt Canada’s agricultural, manufacturing and technology sectors; and
  • threaten internet freedom.

Redlin highlighted the outcomes of a recent TJN-sponsored forum, where Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz described the TPP as “the worst trade deal ever.”

The TPP was finalized by the former Harper government during last year’s federal election, and then signed by the new Liberal government. Consultations on the deal have been limited, poorly publicized, and have appeared to favour the voices of corporations – not citizens.

Blair Redlin’s presentation notes

Making sense of the TPP: A forum at the University of Ottawa

Poster_TPP-EnglishOn April 1, a blue-ribbon panel of experts from Canada, the United States and Europe will hold a forum in Ottawa on the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The keynote speaker at this free event will be Noble Prize-winning economist Dr. Joseph Stiglitz.

Proponents of the TPP argue that it is a once-in-a-generation trade deal that will create jobs and boost Canada’s economy. Opponents counter that the TPP is far more than trade deal – it is an unprecedented set of rules created to increase the profits of transnational corporations and grant them extraordinary powers to override governments that enact legislation in the public interest.

Canada’s Liberal government has called for extensive public consultation before deciding if it will ratify the TPP, and International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has promised to commission an impact study.

MAKING SENSE OF THE TPP is meant to be an informed contribution to the consultation process. It will be hosted by the University of Ottawa and sponsored by CWA Canada, the country’s only all-media union, and the Trade Justice Network.

In addition to Dr. Stiglitz, participants include:

  • Prof. Gus Van Harten, author and expert on international investment law
  • Dr. Ron Labonte, University of Ottawa Canada Research Chair in Globalization and Health Equity
  • Jeronim Capaldo, ground-breaking Tufts University Research Fellow
  • Scott Sinclair, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives economist
  • Pia Eberhardt, Brussels-based international trade researcher for the European Corporate Observatory

The experts will explore the TPP’s potential impact on jobs, manufacturing, health care, sovereignty and the Internet. The forum will also examine the controversial ISDS provision of the TPP, which would grant foreign corporations the right to sue governments if they believe a government decision negatively impacts their potential future profits – something neither Canadian companies nor private citizens have the right to do.

 Date: April 1, 2016

Time: 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Keynote address at 11 a.m.)

Location: Room FSS4007, Social Sciences Building, University of Ottawa

RSVP: jkarpf@uottawa.ca (attendance is free but space is limited)

Media inquires: Contact Bill Gillespie at 647-786-4332

CETA: Liberals trying to hoodwink Canadians

OTTAWA, February 29, 2016- The Trudeau government’s announcement of reforms to the Investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions within the Canada-EU Comprehensive Trade and Economic Agreement (CETA) is nothing more than window dressing.

“The minor tweaks to CETA’s investor-state provisions do nothing to stop foreign corporations from using the threat of billion dollar lawsuits to prevent governments from enacting socially or environmentally responsible measures,” said Larry Brown, co-chair of the Trade Justice Network.

CETA’s Investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, now rebranded as the Investor Court System to further mask the pro-investor bias, will allow Europe’s richest corporations to bypass our domestic courts and sue our government for millions or even billions of dollars if a measure is deemed to threaten their future profits.

“Canada is already the most-sued developed country through ISDS. The federal government has paid more than $200 million to corporations through this mechanism so far and is facing active claims worth billions more,” said Blair Redlin, co-chair of the TJN. “As well, ISDS puts a serious chill on the ability of governments at all levels to enact legislation and public policies that protect the health and well-being of citizens or promote sustainable development. If the new Canadian government ratifies CETA, these problems will only get worse.”

The secret renegotiation also failed to address the numerous other problems with CETA including a billion dollar increase to drug prices, threats to supply-management, a ratchet mechanism that locks in privatization and restrictions to local procurement which will hurt locally sourced food programs and other buy local programs.

“Unfortunately, Minister Freeland has done nothing to fix the fundamental problems with this deal. CETA is still a terrible deal for everyday Canadians, and it cannot be ratified without thorough and transparent renegotiation,” said Brown.

TJN is an extensive and multi-sectoral network uniting environmental, civil society, student, Indigenous, cultural, farming, labour and social justice groups whose aim is to challenge the scope and secretive nature of most free trade agreements.

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For more information: Larry Brown, co-chair, Trade Justice Network

613-228-9800