Killing TTIP: Unintended Consequence of Brexit

One consequence of Britain's vote to leave the European Union is that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, may actually die. Most of our readers won't mourn that loss. 

Economist Michael Roberts writes at his blog:

One of the ironies of the Brexit vote by the British people (more exactly, the English and the Welsh as the Scots voted to remain), is that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, otherwise known as TTIP, has been crippled, possibly killed. It looks as though any potential trade agreement with the US will be ‘parked’ by the EU Commission until Britain’s Article 50 (Brexit) negotiations have been completed. Washington is also being forced to put a hold on TTIP because Britain represents 16% of the EU market. Until Britain’s relationship with the EU is finalised, there is no way to assess the nature and scale of the reduction in the EU’s market, making it impossible to value. There is now a possibility that the deal will never be concluded.

Roberts goes on to explain the many reasons why regimes like the TTIP are bad for ordinary people, and are part of the ongoing neoliberal propaganda regime that marginalizes critics of such agreements. Such agreements mainly aim to improve the position of multinationals in global markets. They neither contain nor encourage provisions to aid those rendered unemployed in the short-term or long-term as a result of such deals. Indeed, the very foundations of "free trade" arguments are erroneous, since, as demonstrated by Anwar Shaikh, and cited by Roberts, "workers lose jobs from competition from abroad without getting new ones from more competitive sectors."

Moreover, all such agreements (demonstrated thematically by the battle over the Trans-Pacific Partnership) contain, in the words of Jeffrey Sachs

exorbitant investor powers implicit in the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system as well as the unjustified expansion of copyright and patent coverage. We’ve seen this show before. Corporations are already using ISDS provisions in existing trade and investment agreements to harass governments in order to frustrate regulations and judicial decisions that negatively impact the companies’ interests. The system proposed in the TPP is a dangerous and unnecessary… blow to the judicial systems of all the signatory countries.

Thinking for the past couple of years about these agreements, and the continuing evidence of their detrimental effects on workers, public services, and the entire spirit of cooperative and public economics, I've concluded that apologists for NAFTA, TPP, TTIP, and other agreements are really just doing the hip, neoliberal version of trickle-down economics. Reaganomics but with the young faces of Justin Trudeau or the impatient droning and lecturing of Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama.

stop-ttip.pngThere are many reasons why Brexit is not the glorious "people's revolt" many have made it out to be. It's not altogether obvious that leaving the EU will improve the lives of workers; the racism and anti-immigrant rhetoric that accompanied the movement is inexcusable and, to be honest, the "Lexiters" who have been trying to march in a separate Brexit parade than the neo-nazis haven't made a convincing case that they are truly capable pursuing a separate, progressive, egalitarian agenda. They just don't seem organized enough to do that, and riding nationalist coattails has never worked in the history of progressive activism.

But I am sure not weeping over the impending death of the TTIP. Good riddance.

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