Broad Oak: your emotional support animal

Saturday, October 03, 2015

TTIP, TISA, TTIP: in praise of Jean Arthuis

Eric Zuesse in "Washington's Blog" refers to and quotes from a Figaro article from last year, in which a centrist Euro-MP gives both barrels to the secretive hegemonic US-driven global trade deals - TTIP, TISA, TTIP and all their horrid crew:

An even bigger such conflict within the [US-EU] Alliance concerns Obama’s proposed treaty with European states, the TTIP, which would give international corporations rights to sue national governments in non-appealable global private arbitration panels, the dictates from which will stand above any member-nation’s laws. Elected government officials will have no control over them. This supra-national mega-corporate effort by Obama is also part of his similar effort in his proposed TPP treaty with Asian nations, both of which are additionally aimed to isolate from international trade not just Russia, but China, so as to leave America’s large international corporations controlling virtually the entire world.

As things now stand regarding these ‘trade’ deals, Obama will either need to eliminate some of his demands, or else the European Commission won’t be able to muster enough of its members to support Obama’s proposed treaty with the EU, the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Also, some key European nations might reject Obama’s proposed treaty on regulations regarding financial and other services: TISA (Trade In Services Agreement). All three of Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals, including the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) between the U.S. and Asian countries, are the actual culmination of Obama’s Presidency, and they’re all about far more than just trade and economics. The main proposed deal with Europe might now be dead.
 
On September 27th, France’s newspaper SouthWest featured an exclusive interview with Matthias Fekl, France’s Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, in which he said that “France is considering all options, including outright termination of negotiations” on the TTIP. He explained that, ever since the negotiations began in 2013, “These negotiations have been and are being conducted in a total lack of transparency,” and that France has, as of yet, received “no serious offer from the Americans.”
 
The reasons for this stunning public rejection had probably already been accurately listed more than a year ago. After all, France has, throughout all of the negotiations, received “no serious offer from the Americans”; not now, and not back at the start of the negotiations in 2013. The U.S. has been steadfast. Jean Arthuis, a member of the European Parliament, and formerly France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, headlined in Le Figaro, on 10 April 2014, “7 good reasons to oppose the transatlantic treaty”. There is no indication that the situation has changed since then, as regards the basic demands that President Obama is making. Arthuis said at that time:
 
First, I am opposed to private arbitration of disputes between States and businesses. [It would place corporate arbitrators above any nation’s laws and enable them to make unappealable decisions whenever a corporation sues a nation for alleged damages for alleged violations of its rights by that nation of the trade-treaty.] Such a procedure is strictly contrary to the idea that I have of the sovereignty of States. …
 
Secondly, I am opposed to any questioning of the European system of appellations of origin. Tomorrow, according to the US proposal, there would be a non-binding register, and only for wines and spirits. Such a reform would kill many European local products, whose value is based on their certified origin.
 
Thirdly, I am opposed to the signing of an agreement with a power that legalizes widespread and systematic spying on my fellow European citizens and European businesses. Edward Snowden’s revelations are instructive in this regard. As long as the agreement does not protect the personal data of European and US citizens, it cannot be signed.
 
Fourth, the United States proposes a transatlantic common financial space, but they adamantly refuse a common regulation of finance, and they refuse to abolish systematic discrimination by the US financial markets against European financial services. They want to have their cake and eat it too: I object to the idea of a common area without common rules, and I reject commercial discrimination.
 
Fifth, I object to the questioning of European health protections. Washington must understand once and for all that notwithstanding its insistence, we do not want our plants or animals treated with growth hormones nor products derived from GMOs, or chemical decontamination of meat, or of genetically modified seeds or non-therapeutic antibiotics in animal feed.
 
Sixth, I object to the signing of an agreement if it does not include the end of the US monetary dumping. Since the abolition of the gold convertibility of the dollar and the transition to the system of floating exchange rates, the dollar is both American national currency and the main unit for exchange reserves in the world. The Federal Reserve then continually practices monetary dumping, by influencing the amount of dollars available to facilitate exports from the United States. China proposes to eliminate this unfair advantage by making “special drawing rights” of the IMF the new global reference currency. But as things now stand, America’s monetary weapon has the same effect as customs duties against every other nation. [And he will not sign unless it’s removed.]
 
Seventh, beyond the audiovisual sector alone, which is the current standard of government that serves as a loincloth to its cowardice on all other European interests in these negotiations, I want all the cultural exceptions prohibited. In particular, it is unacceptable to allow the emerging digital services in Europe to be swept up by US giants such as Google, Amazon or Netflix. They’re giant absolute masters in tax optimization, which make Europe a “digital colony.”
 
President Obama’s negotiator is his close personal friend, Michael Froman, a man who is even trying to force Europe to reduce its fuel standards against global warming and whose back-room actions run exactly contrary to Obama’s public rhetoric. Froman and Obama have been buddies since they worked together as editors on Harvard Law Review. He knows what Obama’s real goals are. Also: “Froman introduced Mr. Obama to Robert E. Rubin, the former Treasury secretary,” who had brought into the Clinton Administration Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers, and had championed (along with them) the ending of the regulations on banks that the previous Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had put into place. (President Bill Clinton signed that legislation just as he left office, and this enabled the long process to occur with MBS securities and with financial derivatives, which culminated with the 2008 crash, and this same legislation also enabled the mega-banks to get bailed out by U.S. taxpayers for their crash — on exactly the basis that FDR had outlawed.)
 
Froman has always been a pro-mega-corporate, pro-mega-bank champion, who favors only regulations which benefit America’s super-rich, no regulations which benefit the public. Froman’s introducing the Wall Street king Robert Rubin to the then-Senator Obama was crucial to Obama’s becoming enabled to win the U.S. Presidency; Robert Rubin’s contacts among the super-rich were essential in order for that — Obama’s getting a real chance to win the Presidency — to happen. It enabled Obama to compete effectively against Hillary Clinton. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been able to do that. His winning Robert Rubin’s support was crucial to his becoming President.
The chances, that President Obama will now be able to get the support from any entity but the U.S. Congress for his proposed TTIP treaty with Europe, are reducing by the day. Europe seems to be less corrupt than is the United States, after all.
 
The only independent economic analysis that has been done of the proposed TTIP finds that the only beneficiaries from it will be large international corporations, especially ones that are based in the United States. Workers, consumers, and everybody else, will lose from it, if it passes into law. Apparently, enough European officials care about that, so as to be able to block the deal. Or else: Obama will cede on all seven of the grounds for Europe’s saying no. At this late date, that seems extremely unlikely.
 
 
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