Backlight: TTIP Might is Right
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is a free trade agreement currently under negotiation between Europe and the United States. As shown in the insightful new documentary, ‘TTIP: Might is Right’, this agreement has stirred a great deal of controversy and protest among the masses, and for good reason.
Most citizens regard free trade as an essential component of a healthy economy; therefore, they generally believe that any new agreement between countries that falls under the banner of ‘free trade’ must be in their best interests. Historically, however, these agreements have done more than just lift tariffs and allow for the smooth transport of imports and exports. Investment clauses written into these agreements, particularly the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause, allows corporations to sue a country when they feel their interests are slighted for any reason. In essence, these trade agreements grant foreign investors the power to call all the shots, regardless of the consequences to the country's economy, citizens’ rights and environmental protection.
Case in point: Canada. In 1992, the country signed up to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States, and the unexpected repercussions of that agreement are still being felt by residents after well over two decades. As evidenced by one such consequence portrayed in the film, the ISDS clause has permitted the practice of unregulated fracking right in the backyards of unsuspecting citizens. Their protests largely fall on deaf ears, because the energy companies which host the fracking enterprises have the authority to sue the country if they feel their business model is under attack. Canada has reason to feel squeamish about interfering with corporate interests or enforcing regulations upon them; since the passing of NAFTA, it has become one of the five most frequently sued countries in the world.
TTIP negotiations are held in secret, and little is revealed to the public regarding their content. ‘TTIP: Might is Right’ calls for greater transparency in the crafting of this agreement, and warns of a potential future where governments only work for the bottom line of foreign investors, and not for the people they represent. Democracy itself could crumble under the weight of litigiousness.