‘Time to pull secret trade deal TTIP out of the shadows’

© Ralph Orlowski
International trade deals like TTIP and CETA are being negotiated behind closed doors, yet they are dealing with some of the most fundamental basic rights of all of us, Sakina Sheikh, anti-TTIP activist, told RT.

French President Francois Hollande said that there will be no deal between the US and the EU on Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) this year as “positions have not been respected.” 

However, the proponents of TTIP keep claiming it would boost economies of the both sides.

Yet, the leaked pages suggest that the US could scrap EU rules on food labeling, to mask the presence of certain chemicals.

RT: Why do you oppose TTIP? 

Sakina Sheikh: For me and for much of civil society across Europe we oppose the TTIP, because we see essentially see it as handing over a huge amount of power to corporations. So through a closed court the ICS [Imperial Court System] it gives corporations the right to sue governments if they don’t protect business profits. And we think that generally compromises the rights of individuals if governments are trying to protect individuals. It also could potentially compromise public health services across the EU. So we see as threatening some of the most basic quality of life and human rights of individuals. 

RT: Supporters of the deal say, if implemented, it will boost both the US and EU economies. Why are certain EU member states now calling for an end to talks? 

SS: I think, firstly, all economic figures have been disputed. There is a great Tufts University report that disputes the economic gains of TTIP. But I think things like France and Germany – what they are showing is that compromising regulations on the kind of chemicals that go into our food and our health products like creams on our faces causing warts, or putting GMOs in food – these compromise the most essential things in our lives, the things that make up the quality of our lives. Some things can never be compromised. 

For me those regulations uphold the quality of our life, but also public services like NHS. But also having politicians being held to account by corporations to protect their profits – that should never be the state of play – they are accountable to the people. That is why we’ve seen so much civil society movement come out against TTIP. The reason TTIP is kind of in crisis at the moment is coming conveniently alongside the fact that it’s ‘younger brother’ – another trade deal called CETA [Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement] - is close to being concluded. There is a fear that actually people might start focusing on CETA and look at the fact that it holds many of the problems that TTIP does.

RT: France and Germany, specifically, have rejected the deal in its current form. Does that mean TTIP is finished? 

SS: It should be, really, because there is a very clear voice coming out again from sort of groups in the UK and across Europe. We had a signature sound of over three million people saying that this is not a deal we want – not just for the reason that France and Germany talk about, which is sort of lowing our regulations, but because of our public services, because of the setting up of our corporate courts  that gives corporations way too much power. I think it is about time we let TTIP die, and at the same time we also recognize that CETA, its little brother, is just around the corner and we need to stop that, as well.RT: What are your thoughts on the TISA, Trade in Services Agreement, deal, which is also being negotiated in private and is said to pose a threat to public services and democratic sovereignty? 

SS: I think it comes very much from the same family as TTIP, as CETA. What these trade deals are showing us, and they’ve kind of come out of the shadows recently again because of civil society action – is that these are being negotiated behind closed doors, and they are dealing with some of the most fundamental basic rights of all of us. So it is actually about time we pull them out the shadow, he held our politicians to account, and we say that “your mandate is to represent us, not corporate profit.”

It is sort of forming a global economic blueprint and it’s about time we start saying: “We know what we don’t want – we don’t want things like TISA, TTIP, or CETA.” We need to start talking about what we do want, what is just a trade deal look like. In order for this conversation to happen these negotiations need to be not happening in secret.

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