Can we make trade work?


?????In just over 6 weeks all of us who are entitled to do so will have voted in the European Elections or chosen to abstain. There is a great deal at stake and one of the issues that I wrote about a week ago is the issue of Trade Agreements and in particular the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. When I wrote previously it was to point out that although we are in the middle of a major consultation on TTIP, that none of the major parties appeared to have any reference to TTIP on their websites that I could find. However thankfully the issue is being debated in public and one of the groups that are raising concerns about the impact of TTIP on the developing world is a campaign called the Alternative Trade Mandate. They are an alliance of development and farmers’ groups, Fair Trade activists, aid agencies, environment and human rights campaigns, trade unionists, migrant workers, environmentalists, women’s, human rights, faith and consumer groups and many more from all over Europe. Here in the UK they include the GMB, Trade Justice Movement, War on Want and the World Development Movement. The campaign is supported by Friends of the Earth, National Peace and Justice Network and Traidcraft.

This group has crafted and Alternative Trade Mandate, a proposal to make EU trade and investment policy work for people and the planet, not just the profit interests of a few. The 20-page mandate proposes that core principles such as human and labour rights and environmental protection should drive EU trade policy. On several areas, such as food, work, money and raw materials, detailed proposals for change are outlined. One proposal is for the EU to become more self-sufficient in protein and oil crops as alternatives to imports of (genetically-modified) soybeans, palm oil and agrofuels, which are devastating for the environment and small farmers in the global south. The mandate also calls on the EU to hold European corporations accountable for human rights violations, environmental destruction, tax avoidance and tax evasion elsewhere.

I have to confess that so far I have neither watched nor listened to the full broadcasts of the only two debates on the EU to have taken place in recent weeks. However what I did hear and read about the debates between Clegg and Farage, suggest that neither men mentioned spent much time in either advocating for the strength that EU trade policies could offer to the developing world, nor offered an alternative way that a Britain out of Europe would achieve this end in another way. In two weeks time we will know who our candidates are for the EU election and then have a chance to quiz them on their position of the TTIP and whether they support the Alternative Trade Mandate. I don’t want my vote to be cast based on the rather depressing rhetoric of Clegg and Farage. Perhaps the ATM could be one way for electors to change the mood music of the campaign?

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
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