Transatlantic trade deals are ‘sewing seeds for all sorts of evil’, says Manchester activist

Social justice campaigners are stopping in Manchester on their UK wide tour to warn the nation about the perils of the forthcoming bilateral trade agreements between the US and Europe.

Global Justice Now will arrive in Manchester on November 2.

Campaigners say the new agreements mean that general wages could suffer, private data could be at risk and governments could be sued for jeopardising companies’ profits.

Negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade Agreements are in full swing and reaching critical decision-making stages, prompting communities all over Europe to voice their concern, particularly in Manchester.

One of the three main trade agreements, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is culmulating the most potent response, generating a strong Manchester resistance.

Stephen Pennells, an organiser of the Global Justice Now talk, told MM: “It’s a stitch up by the two richest power blocks in the world setting the rules. They are scaremongering because people cannot see what is being negotiated.”

The secretive nature of the agreements as parts of it are not set to be released until agreed by the European Commission and US officials.

If ratified TTIP would create the largest trading zone in the world, breaking down many of the barriers of trade and investment within the area.

By removing tariffs and harmonising legislative regulation, TTIP targets a boost in both US and European economies.

By increasing the ease of trade, officials suggest that it could make everyone in Europe €545 better off per year.

Even so, Mr Pennells rejected this, he said: “Just saying let business rip seems to me like sewing the seeds for all sorts of evils.

“The city council will not be able to regulate, with this, accountability falls down the plughole.

“Environmental protection like anti-fracking could be watered down and the ability of the council to specify that it wanted to do local procurement could be taken away.”

Mr Pennells strikingly commented on political behaviour towards TTIP seen in the UK: “By and large the Labour party seems to be dithering around because they are scared of being called antibusiness.”

This volunteer activist believes it is dangerous to exclude relevant parties from the negotiations, adding: “You get the big boys sitting down, pulling the strings and many of the people we care about are not going to get a share of the action.

“If we want a plurality, do it through the WTO, make it international so that everybody gets a share and if they ain’t ready to say yes, then they ain’t ready but stop bullying them.

“There is a push to get this sorted out before China’s power gets any greater because China isn’t in on this deal. If we can set up the rules then when China comes along they’re on the outside.”

Raising a number of other issues such as threatening DevoManc, causing ‘astronomical penalties’ for the NHS and encroaching on climate change regulations, Mr Pennells also addressed the need for transparency.

He said: “If we want to have governments held to account, then let them not bind themselves into a situation whereby they are advised where the options that come before parliament are being dictated in hidden emails and back rooms by corporate lobbyists.”

In a bid to inspire Manchester into action against TTIP, Global Justice Now is holding a talk in the Methodist Central Hall on November 2 at 6:30pm open to all.

In the words of Mr Pennells: “We’re a few hundred yards from where Peterloo happened, we can change things.”

Image courtesy of Greensefa, with thanks.

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