A UK-WIDE tour of “high-profile” speakers campaigning against proposed free trade deals between the European Union and North America will kick off in Dundee today.
It is the first of seven dates throughout the UK and the Irish Republic that will be fronted by Global Justice Now, a campaign group for the control of world resources “by the many not the few”.
The group has warned that free trade deals the EU is pushing between it and the US (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP) and the EU and Canada (the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement or CETA), could trigger a flood of litigation as firms “sue governments in secret courts for introducing laws that would harm their profits”.
Speakers at today’s meeting in Dundee’s Dalhousie Building include Maude Barlow, trade expert and chair of the Council of Canadians, Yash Tandon, a Ugandan policymaker and professor, and Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now.
Barlow said Canada had much experience of corporations being able to sue its government for introducing laws that were beneficial to the environment or workers’ rights, but that dented corporate profits.
“This was because of a trade deal that we signed a long time ago with the USA,” she said. “It’s been a disaster for democracy and has cost the taxpayer billions. I’m in the UK to warn people what has happened in Canada.”
SNP MPs at Westminster have publicly expressed their concern that, without specific safeguards, TTIP and CETA might spark court challenges to the UK and Holyrood governments if businesses did not make a profit out of public services that were privatised.