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Q.13 General assessment

Whatever the supposed benefits of the TTIP, it seems evident that the core of any such treaty consists of investor rights agreements. Indeed, the overall trend in international economic and trade affairs for many years now has been increasing rights for investors, in other words, principally transnational commercial and financial corporations - to the point where national sovereignty (or supra-national in the case of EU prerogatives) may be weakened or in doubt.

Insofar as the TTIP proposes giving supplementary rights to transnational entities (whether they be European-based entities trading in the US, US-based entities trading in the EU, or third parties), we cannot support any such concessions being made, at least until such time as an adequate international tax code has been implemented. If not, then the treaty will have the effect of allowing transnationals to crowd out local operators, offshoring their profits and thus avoiding contributing their share to the communities in which they do business.

Increasing penetration of foreign-based and particularly transnational enterprises into any national economic space inevitably leads to increasing pressure from local businesses for lower rates of company tax. This demand is only natural, and perfectly just: they are in competition but the playing field is not level.

Therefore, treaties which favour such increased penetration will inevitably place downward pressure on national governments' tax resource, both directly from a reduced tax take (through international tax avoidance) and indirectly, by increasing political pressure for lower rates on national enterprises.

Further, ill-advised concessions would bring downward pressure on government's capacity to regulate in the public interest on matters such as human and social rights, the environment, consumer protection, labour rights.

Rather than concede further rights to transnational corporations, the TTIP should unambiguously state and protect the fundamental rights of sovereign states and of their citizens. It should be clearly recalled, moreover, that corporations and governments are not the only stakeholders in society.

To this end, the dispute resolution system proposed should also permit counter-suits (by governments, corporations, trade unions, NGOs, private citizens) against states who violate good governance or the human rights of their citizens in order to obtain a competitive advantage. Potential infringements include:

*Restrictions on the right to organize and bargain collectively.
*Restrictions on the right to strike.
*Disproportionate restrictions on the right to blockade.
*Arbitrary restrictions on access to health care (such as restricting access based on medically irrelevant criteria like race, creed, or ability to pay for the treatment).
*Wilful and wanton destruction of environmental commons.
*Enabling of tax fraud and shadow finance.
*Wilful disregard for proven or materially suspected harmful impacts of consumer products.

Establishing symmetry between the right of investors to sue over re-regulation and the right of civil society (and investors in other countries who are negatively impacted by regulatory dumping) to sue over deregulation would go a long way towards restoring the neutrality of the proposed treaty with regard to overall levels of regulation.

Since, on most questions offered, CETA provisions were cited as an example of treaty language, it seems necessary to point out that those provisions are in our view inadequate, above all because the Party in negotiation with the EU concerning the TTIP is very considerably larger and more powerful than Canada. In other words, if the treaty offers concessions rather than obtaining guarantees, in our view it should not be signed.


by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jul 6th, 2014 at 03:04:25 PM EST

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