Three more reasons why we need to stop CETA

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’What we see with CETA,’ writes Dearden, ’is European and Canadian governments risking environmental and social protections in order to bat for their own big business interests on both sides of the Atlantic.’ (Illustration by Jacob V Joyce)

Common Dreams | August 15, 2016

Three more reasons why we need to stop CETA

by Nick Dearden

Last week I joined activists and campaigners from across the globe who came to Canada for the World Social Forum. A major topic of discussion was the problems with TTIP-style free trade agreements and how we can stop them.

For us in Europe the big one is now CETA – the Canada-EU trade deal (formally the Comprehensive Economic & Trade Agreement) which could become law as early as next year. Unless we stop it.

Our allies from across Europe and Canada gave some strong reasons for us to get more active on CETA.

1. CETA really is TTIP by the backdoor.

Many US corporations now operate in Canada because the two economies have been heavily integrated since the signing of another big trade deal 20 years ago, NAFTA. The infamous corporate court system – which allows foreign corporations to sue governments for pretty much anything they don’t like – is in CETA just as its in TTIP. It’s a somewhat reformed version in CETA, but not reformed enough to stop any of the cases we don’t like such as countries being sued for protecting the environment, introducing social protection in regulation etc.

So if CETA comes into effect, hundreds of US-based corporations will be able to sue the UK, through Canada, whether we have TTIP or not. And let’s not pretend Canadian multinationals haven’t aggressively used these corporate courts too!!

2. Canada’s law could threaten our own protections.

CETA has less resonance on the streets than TTIP – perhaps because Canada doesn’t seem as ‘big and bad’ as the US economy. But Canada has some terrible regulations which are a real threat to our laws. For instance, Canada is the third largest producer of genetically modified products in the world. They’ve just invented a genetically modified salmon, we were told, which wouldn’t require any special labelling. They also have terrible animal welfare conditions.

If British farmers have to compete against big agribusiness using these techniques, they either face going bust or we lower our own standards in a regulatory race to the bottom.

3. Our negotiators said ‘yes’ to tar sands so they could rip open Canadian local government.

It seems pretty clear now that the deal on CETA was made something like this: First, Europe would drop its objections to the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet – tar sands oil, which is turning vast swathes of Canada into a devastated moonscape. This has happened already. In return, European big business would get access to Canada’s huge local procurement market. Canada still has strong public services and protections which allows local authorities to use their purchasing power to support, for instance, local farmers and local businesses selling to schools and hospitals. But that could be over with CETA. No wonder dozens of local government bodies have asked the Canadian government to be exempted from the deal.

This links to another worry for Canadians, which could affect their small farmers. Canada uses government purchases of farm produce to give farmers price stability. Canadians fear this will be challenged by CETA as an unfair form of protection, throwing farmers even further onto the mercy of the ‘free’ market.

So what we see with CETA, it seems, is European and Canadian governments risking environmental and social protections in order to bat for their own big business interests on both sides of the Atlantic. As we always thought.

If our governments want to protect the interests of their corporations, it’s for the people of Europe and Canada to stand up for their own interests – and make sure this awful deal never becomes law.

Post-EU referendum, Global Justice Now has updated its CETA briefing - find it here.

Nick Dearden is the director of Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement) and former director of Jubilee Debt Campaign.

source: Common Dreams

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  • Three more reasons why we need to stop CETA1-September-2016 | Nick Dearden

    "The text is very clear that grounds for appeal are very limited (discrimination, expropriation without compensation AND that the public authority may not be sued for measures of the general good"

    That is not ‘very limited’. Tribunals have been historically willing to define expropriation very broadly including ‘indirect expropriation’ which is basically policy changes that impact upon corporate profit. I can imagine that ‘general good’ will also be subject to a lot of interpretation. Much more at: http://corporateeurope.org/international-trade/2016/02/zombie-isds

    "CETA does not compel EU to import any genetically GMO except those very few it already has admitted to market in the EU. Any change would need approval by member States and European Parliament - which is not a gift."

    At the outset, yes, this is true. But the regulatory cooperation chapter will entrench corporate lobbying opportunities in process related to food regulatory standards (including on GM). It will also serve to lock in any future loosening of the rules by either side on GMOs. As you yourself admit, it would make it harder to regulate GMOs already in the EU market.

    "Any imports from Canada will have to meet same conditions of animal welfare as those imposed on EU producers. This can only lead to improvement in Canada"

    Do you have any evidence on this? Like the above, what’s to stop a race to the bottom on animal welfare regulation. Look at the impact of Nafta - standards did not go up.

    "Fuel imported needs to abide by exactly same rules as applicable to fuel suppliers of the EU"

    The Fuel Quality Directive was watered down as a result of the CETA and TTIP negotiations so that those standards *for both parties* is now much lower than it would otherwise have been. It’s a great example of why we’re worried about GMO and animal welfare points above. The Canadian side clearly viewed CETA’s procurement chapter as part of a quid pro quo in exchange for a watering down of the FQD to facilitate the import of tar sands oil.

    "(a) All public services escape from commitments; authorities may anytime decide to "publicize" a service; (b) As in the EU, public awarding authorities may reserve contracts on social or environmental grounds."

    (a) The definition of ‘public services’ has been contested in the past (if private operators are involved there are strong grounds to say that it ceases to be a public service). What’s more, something that’s been privatised - such as railways in the UK - would definitely be counted as ’private’, allowing, as a minimum, corporations to sue in ISDS for attempts to renationalise.

    (b) I expect this will be thoroughly tested in dispute settlement (e.g. one of the arbitrators in a recent NAFTA case said that the very concept of environmental assessments had now been challenged by ISDS).

    "This leads farmers to over-produce, thus depresses prices, thus reinforces disappearance of producers; if this system (contrary to WTO rules) was to disappear as a follow-up of the CETA (????) Canada would have to replace subsidy to production by subsidy to producers, as in the EU, farmers becoming "gardeners of the nature" instead of industrial producers."

    There are problems with all systems, but in the EU, farmer subsidies are being paid to produce nothing, and those who’ve benefited are the biggest landowners, not small farmers. What will not help at all is the enforcement of these ’trade disciplines’ on small farmers, which prioritise a efficiency no matter what the social and environmental cost.

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  • Three more reasons why we need to stop CETA18-August-2016 | DIDIER Pierre

    - foreign corporations to sue governments for pretty much anything they don’t like: false: the text is very clear that grounds for appeal are very limited (discrimination, expropriation without compensation AND that the public authority may not be sued for measures of the general good
    - imports of genetically modified salmon (or others): false: CETA does not compel EU to import any genetically GMO except those very few it already has admitted to market in the EU. Any change would need approval by member States and European Parliament - which is not a gift.
    - animal welfare conditions: false: any imports from Canada will have to meet same conditions of animal welfare as those imposed on EU producers. This can only lead to improvement in Canada
    - Europe to drop its objections to the dirtiest fossil fuel on the planet: false: fuel imported needs to abide by exactly same rules as applicable to fuel suppliers of the EU
    - Public procurement: false on at least two accounts: (a) all public services escape from commitments; authorities may anytime decide to "publicize" a service; (b) as in the EU, public awarding authorities may reserve contracts on social or environmental grounds.
    - government purchases of farm produce to give farmers price stability: this leads farmers to over-produce, thus depresses prices, thus reinforces disappearance of producers; if this system (contrary to WTO rules) was to disappear as a follow-up of the CETA (????) Canada would have to replace subsidy to production by subsidy to producers, as in the EU, farmers becoming "gardeners of the nature" instead of industrial producers.

    Why do you fan obviously populist counter-truth? Are you a new Donald Trump or Boris Jognson using all their lies?

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