Several entities and institutions, such as the European Consumer Organization, claim for full transparency during the negotiations, no weakening of the levels of consumer protection, and discard the Investor-State Dispute Settlement clause (ISDS). Cecilia Malmström, Commissioner for Trade, has been trying to explain the benefits in order to convince those against TTIP or with some concerns, but the effort she is making seems to be just not enough.
What really grates the agreement’s critics is the secrecy of the negotiations. The draft texts are not open to public scrutiny, and the few outsiders who are allowed access to them are prohibited from divulging the contents as long as the goal of this policy is supposed to be the facilitation of the negotiations. But, as US Senator Elizabeth Warren has put it, this gets it exactly backwards: If transparency would make it harder to sell the final product to the public, it raises serious questions about the desirability of what is being negotiated.
In a recent article by Dani Rodrik for the Project Syndicate on January 11th, he exposes very clearly what the issues are regarding TPP and TTIP, especially concerning the ISDS matter: “These provisions establish a separate judicial track, outside a country’s own legal system, that allows firms to sue governments for apparent violations under trade treaties. Proponents defend ISDS by saying that it will not have much consequence for countries, such as the US, where there is good rule of law, and that it will promote investment in countries, such as Vietnam, where there is not. In that case, it is unclear why ISDS provisions are needed for the TTIP, which covers the advanced economies of North America and Europe. In all of these areas, the TPP and TTIP seem to be about corporate capture, not liberalism”.
And insisting on the idea that transparency is needed, Mr. Rodrik concludes the article as follows: “There is much uncertainty about these trade agreements’ economic and political consequences, and considerable room for concern. Proponents only discredit themselves by deriding the skeptics as protectionists. Open, informed debate about specific provisions is exactly what is called for. And that is possible only if the negotiating texts are opened to public scrutiny”.
source image: www.justin-turpel.lu