It’s amazing how just a little transparency forced onto the free trade deals theObama administration been negotiating in secret totally turns the public against them.
After the contents of the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and the European Union was leaked andpublished by Greenpeace a few days ago, the negotiations – already in turmoil – have been thrown into further doubt now that the public has actually gotten to see what is being proposed by both sides.
As usual with US-negotiated trade deals, the contents were kept completely secret from both ordinary Europeans and Americans, yet was easily accessible if you’re a giant corporation. So naturally, the terms are heavily tilted toward big business at the expense of the environment, health and safety standards.
The Guardian reported on a lot of controversial provisions in detail on Sunday, butthe Independent summed it up nicely: “The documents show that US corporations will be granted unprecedented powers over any new public health or safety regulations to be introduced in future. If any European government does dare to bring in laws to raise social or environmental standards, TTIP will grant US investors the right to sue for loss of profits.”
Despite the Obama administration’s concerted push to finish both TTIP and its Asian counterpart, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), before the presidential election in November, support for trade deals are plummeting in the US: a recent poll showed that only 18% of the public support TTIP, compared to 53% in 2014.
One can only assume that the presidential race has drastically increased the number of people with a negative opinion of free trade deals. Both parties’ potential nominees actively campaigning against them, after all. Republican nominee Donald Trump has been vocal in his opposition to TPP since the start of his candidacy, and Democratic contender Bernie Sanders hit frontrunner Hillary Clinton so hard on supporting past trade deals for costing the US manufacturing jobs and weakening environment standards that she came out against TPP as well – despitesupporting it while at the state department.
But what has mattered more is merely the ability for the public to see what’s in these agreements. While there were many civil society groups protesting the deals from the start, it wasn’t until WikiLeaks published draft versions of TPP that public sentiment turned against it. The US trade representative even admitted at the time that the administration knew if the public found out what is in these trade deals, public opposition would be significant.