One paragraph to US-UK trade negotiations is all you need to know about a deal with America
TruePublica Editor: Page three of the US-UK Trade and Investment Working Group document that was released by Jeremy Corbyn says it all – and here it is:
“US talked UK through the SME Chapter of USMCA, highlighting that it was ‘TPP+’ with a clear cooperative focus and a commitment to SMEs from all sides in participating in regular Dialogues and information sharing. USMCA is the first US FTA to have a chapter on SMEs and is considered to be ‘state of the art’. The underlying sense, although not confirmed, is that we could expect this chapter to be a blueprint for a UK FTA. ”
Just to walk you through this. The USMCA is the United States – Mexico – Canada – Agreement. Broadly speaking it has these components:
- Country of origin rules: Automobiles must have 75 per cent of their components manufactured in Mexico, the US, or Canada to qualify for zero tariffs (up from 62.5 per cent under NAFTA).
- Labour provisions: 40 to 45 per cent of automobile parts must be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour by 2023. Mexico passed new labour laws to give greater protections to workers. Democrats still want tougher enforcement, though.
- US farmers get more access to the Canadian dairy market: The US got Canada to open up its dairy market to US farmers, a big issue for Trump.
- Intellectual property and digital trade: The deal extends the terms of copyright to 70 years beyond the life of the author (up from 50). It also extends the period that a pharmaceutical drug can be protected from generic competition, and includes new provisions to deal with the digital economy, such as prohibiting duties on things like music and e-books, and protections for internet companies so they’re not liable for content their users produce.
- Sunset clause: The agreement adds a 16-year “sunset” clause — meaning the terms of the agreement expire, or “sunset” after 16 years. The deal is also subject to a review every six years, at which point the US, Mexico, and Canada can decide to extend the USMCA.
TruePublica wrote about this deal in August 2018. We said that a trade deal with America would simply be TPP Plus and guess what – it is being promoted in internal government documents as TPP+
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Three things that should strike you immediately. First, this is a deal just like the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), a deal that was comprehensively rejected by the general public en-masse in the countries in which it was proposed. In Japan, for instance, Shinzo Abe the Prime Minister had to promise to drop TPP negotiations as it was clear he would not be elected again if he didn’t. In America, Donald Trump promised to drop TTP as part of the reason why he was elected as the general public were comprehensively against it. In its place is the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership which emerged only when the USA withdrew from TPP, the original partners suddenly signed up having dropped 20 clauses that benefitted America. Trade ministers under Liam Fox (at the time) expressed a wish to join this second group post-Brexit. So you can see where this is going – reduced standards to meet those in that agreement – countries such as Brunei, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Vietnam.
In the EU, their version of the US – EU trade deal was called TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). The biggest public survey ever undertaken in the bloc ended with 97 per cent of the public objecting to the TTIP deal binding the EU to US trade policy and standards. Eventually, after considerable protest, it failed on both sides of the Atlantic. The biggest proportion of objections in that survey came from the United Kingdom.
The second is that American agricultural products will have much greater access (as will the chemical industry) – meaning hormone growth products in meat, chlorine-washed poultry, GMO products and generally reduced standards of welfare and production across the board.
The third is exactly as the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has highlighted – a focus on protection for big pharma against cheaper generic drugs that the NHS currently benefits from. And all this is from the third page of a 450-page report.
As a footnote, on page 4 of this report, it should be noted the meeting was hosted by PayPal, that Google was in attendance and on page five the order of dialogue was about business and nothing else but included comments about ISDS – and ISDS is a huge matter that was quite possibly the single biggest reason why TTP and TTIP failed. ISDS caused a public outcry over a once-obscure element of international trade agreements and was, in the end, the cause of the downfall of the biggest trade deal in history worth an astonishing $34 trillion market stretching from Honolulu to Helsinki.
ISDS – gives multinational corporations a stranglehold over elected parliaments and national courts and tear apart public health and protection policies at the same time. A US-UK trade deal is hardly “taking back control.”