The World Development Movement (WDM) wants poverty to end. ‘WDM campaigns against the root causes of poverty and inequality. We are a democratically-governed movement made up of local campaign groups based in towns and cities around the UK. Our staff in London and Edinburgh co-ordinate hard-hitting campaigns that challenge the powerful and seek to bring about economic justice for the world’s poor majority.’
I don’t know these people very well yet but right now, I’m glad of their campaign against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union and the United States. WDM isn’t very impressed by the official European view of the TTIP which says that we’ll gain jobs and economic growth.
In an open letter to our UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, WDM says that the TTIP isn’t really about jobs and growth. According to this point of view, the TTIP is about giving power to huge corporations.
WDM tells us more about why trade agreements, including the TTIP, affect all of us. ‘Trade deals affect many aspects of our lives, whether we live in the UK or in the global south. There are trade deals about food, water, shelter, energy, health, education, land, transport, communications and knowledge. 2014 is an important year for trade because new trade deals are being negotiated which would take trade into many more areas. These deals are shrouded in secrecy and the most aggressively neoliberal of any to date. For many countries in the global south, trade has the potential to support their economies in a way which will reduce poverty and inequality. But it can also expose their economies to risk and insecurity which they are unable to control. Dominance by foreign multinational corporations, where the benefits of trade do not reach the host country, is a serious problem…
‘Even trade deals between rich countries, such as the EU and USA, can have an impact on the global south. For example, the [TTIP] involves such significant economies that whatever is agreed has influence beyond the countries which negotiated the deal. It will be difficult for poorer countries to assert themselves and insist on a different model, even though they could play no part in the negotiations. TTIP is best understood as a blueprint which could set the standard for trade around the world. Furthermore, if countries outside the deal want to trade with any one of the 28 countries in the deal, they are likely to have to comply with the rules of the whole group.’
A blueprint for trade around the world, shrouded in secrecy. Feel reassured?