CETA: A false solution to economic and political woes

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Manitoba Co-operator | 6 March 2017

CETA: A false solution to economic and political woes

By Jan Slomp

Since Donald Trump took office as president of the United States, a shocking list of executive orders is making people around the world uneasy about unpredictable days ahead.

Democracy and civil liberties are in peril. It is reasonable for Canadian and European officials to respond with concern to Trump’s aberrations. But it appears that, fearing the uncertainty, they have rushed to ratify CETA.

The deal offers the language of prosperity and progress, but in reality, accelerates income inequality and grassroots unrest. Both Canadian and European politicians fail to understand that decades of free trade-like policies have deprived too many U.S. citizens of their economic sustenance and thereby helped to elect Donald Trump.

The rise of the extreme right in Europe (as well as in Canada) is also fuelled by the hollowing out of the rural economy, disenfranchising the people and communities that depend upon it. CETA is a Trojan Horse that, once in effect, will further quash social, economic and environmental protection in exchange for the enrichment of offshore investors.

The European Union has ratified most of CETA’s text, but individual states must each ratify the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) measures of CETA. Many national governments now face a rapidly growing democratic movement that opposes the economic and social disempowerment of their communities that CETA entails.

We can only hope that as country-by-country European opposition grows it will be a common-sense analysis and not the fear-based extreme right that prevails. We now depend on the politicians in EU member state Parliaments to realize that democracy and quality of life will be further endangered if they ratify CETA’s ISDS measures.

Farmers in Europe understand that CETA is another threat to their livelihood. In Canada, some farmers will see immediate income pressures as CETA comes into effect; others will find out over time that their newly offered “market opportunity” really means producing and selling a bit more, but for a lower price.

Signing CETA raises false expectations, and in the end it will only exacerbate income disparity and disenfranchise people at the grassroots.

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  • CETA: A false solution to economic and political woes9-March-2017 | Fiona McMurran

    Of course the CETA will affect the right to regulate; the statements in the Joint Interpretative Framework are deliberately misleading, since they ignore the effect of the investor-state dispute settlement process to produce regulatory chill. Under the CETA, foreign corporations must be kept abreast of the the host country’s plans to regulate/legislate, and can therefore have input into the drafting of — or the cancellation of — any such regulations that might hinder the corporations right to make a profit. And let’s not forget that this also applies to subnational governments, including municipalities. As far as agriculture is concerned, the CETA benefits industrial agriculture, which is both directly and indirectly responsible for the reduction of small mixed farms in Canada. EU farmers rightly recognize that the CETA will allow the entry of huge chemical companies like Monsanto into the EU by the (Canadian) back door, despite the defeat of the TTIP.

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  • CETA: A false solution to economic and political woes9-March-2017 | DIDIER Pierre

    On 27 February 2017 EU Commission replied to a parliamentary question 9211/2016 a.o.: "Investors have had the right to submit to investment tribunals in over 1400 bilateral investment treaties concluded by (EU) Member States, without this holding the EU or its Member States back from developing some of the most far-reaching policies on consumer, social, environment and health protection." Is this a wrong statement? Although the CETA (unlike the bilateral agreements) makes very clear that the ISDS cannot ever lead to a limitation of the EU and Canada’s freedom to regulate on these issues, have you any reason to believe that it might be different now? As to farmers, most supply their crop for processed agricultural products, exports of which will be much enhanced by the disappearance of customs duties on these products (between 10 and 25% in Canada) and by the protection of appellations.

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