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'TTIP will allow private companies to sue govt. for millions’

'TTIP will allow private companies to sue govt. for millions’
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership gives companies the right to sue governments if they think there was “indirect expropriation” of future profits, Glyn Moody, technology writer, told RT.

Some experts claim that TTIP could make a privatization of Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) irreversible.

RT:How will TTIP really affect the NHS?

Glyn Moody: What they are saying is rather clever because it is true that the NHS won`t be directly affected by TTIP as it is negotiated, but what lots of people are rightly concerned about is what happens afterwards because there is a chapter within TTIP which is called the “investor state dispute settlement” which basically gives companies the right to sue governments if they think there has been, what they call, indirect expropriation of future profits. Basically that gives them a right to profits in the future. Whether that might affect the NHS, is that we have got a current wave of privatization going on at the moment. And if in some future situation a Labor government might want to reverse that privatization which would be a perfectly natural thing for a government to do. This clause would kick in and the companies that have taken these parts of the NHS will say then: “hang on; you are taking our future profits. We are going to sue you for billions of euro,” and we know that this kind of thing is happening around the world and the fear is justified. That is exactly what will happen with the NHS. So basically privatization will be locked in. You couldn`t reverse it or rather you could reverse it, but you’d end up paying billions or possibly tens of billions of euro if you did so.

RT:The British government has given assurances that the NHS won't be compromised by this trade deal - so what are people so worried about?

GM: Not really, because basically the reason the British government if quite keen on this is that it would actually lock in the ideology. Even if they lost an election or were replaced by a Labor government, that Labor government or coalition government would be unable to reverse their policy. So this is supposedly a trade deal about how people will get more money. But in fact it contains within it a particular agenda, a political agenda. And that is what is problematic about TTIP. It is not really a trade agreement. It is actually much more about liberalization and forcing the European Union to change in a certain way and irreversibly. That is why I think a lot of people increasingly are worried that TTIP is not going to be a good idea.

Protesters demonstrating against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership TTIP hold up signs in front of a screen showing German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivering a speech an election campaign meeting of the German Social Democratic Party for the upcoming European elections in Berlin, on May 19, 2014. (AFP Photo / John Macdougall)

RT:The UK's trade minister says that those against TTIP are probably motivated by antipathy towards America. Would you agree?

GM: I disagree. You can see that it is not true because at the moment there is also a trade agreement being negotiated with Canada. And in fact that is just coming to a head now. And people are equally worried about that agreement. So the argument that it is just anti-Americanism isn`t true. The problem is with this kind of ISDS (Ability for Corporations to sue Government) clauses; this ability to sue governments and that would be present as far as we know in the Canadian agreement too. People are worried about that. It is clearly isn`t anything to do with nationalities; it is to do with this problem that companies can sue governments. They basically can put multinational corporations on the same level with these governments. Let’s not forget that these courts are actually just three layers sitting in a room and deciding these cases. It has nothing to do with the national law. It is actually circumvents national law. And that is true of TTIP, the American deal, and CETA (The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) which is the Canadian deal. And both of those are equally problematic. So that has nothing to do with the anti-Americanism.

RT:There are services already being contracted to private healthcare companies. In that sense, opening up to more competition from American firms would only improve services, would it not?

GM: That is not the issue. We are not talking about whether people should be allowed to open up to privatization. Many people would say that it is a good idea. What we are talking about is the irreversibility of that. Because a future government might decide that it didn’t work out too well, so let`s bring it back into the NHS. TTIP would prevent that. So it is nothing to do with the privatization as such. It is about irreversibility of privatization.

RT:Why is TTIP being negotiated behind closed doors?

GM: Interestingly, we do know about a similar agreement which is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). An American politician that has seen TPP actually said: “If the American public could see what is being negotiated than there would be riots in the streets. And I think that something very similar is going to be to TTIP. If people knew what was being negotiated behind closed doors they wouldn`t stand for it. And what is being done? It is being set up a kind of fait accompli whereby it will be too late to do anything when the whole thing is finished. It will be presented to the public and said: “We are sorry, we can`t actually change it, you just have to accept it.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.