This Is What Happens With Trade Deals Such As CETA
By Graham Vanbergen – Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now wrote in The Guardian last May about the CETA trade deal signed between Canada and the EU and warned – “Its 1,500 pages show us that it’s a threat to not only our food standards, but also the battle against climate change, our ability to regulate big banks to prevent another crash and our power to renationalise industries. Like the US deal, CETA contains a new legal system, open only to foreign corporations and investors. Should the British government make a decision, say, to outlaw dangerous chemicals, improve food safety or put cigarettes in plain packaging, a Canadian company can sue the British government for “unfairness”. And by unfairness this simply means they can’t make as much profit as they expected. The “trial” would be held as a special tribunal, overseen by corporate lawyers.”
Trade deals like TTIP now look doomed particularly as US President Donald Trump has openly stated he does not support such them as they have destroyed or off-shored millions of American jobs. Whether he lives up to that particular promise only time will tell.
In the meantime, trade in effect already include:
- Trans-Pacific Partnership (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam) – pending approval as of 2016
- North American Free Trade Agreement (US, Canada & Mexico) – took effect in 1994
- Canada–European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement (Canada & EFTA) – took effect in 2009
- Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Canada & EU)
- Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and the European Union (Mexico & EU) – took effect in 2000
- Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and the European Free Trade Association (Mexico & EFTA)
- European Economic Area (most of EU & EFTA) – took effect in 1994
A fine example of why these trade deals can be so dangerous is no better demonstrated than Canada’s attack of Romania.
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Romanian civil society celebrated its success after a decade-long fight against a gold mining project in Rosia Montana. The streets were full of protesting people from the entire social spectrum. Everyone was united from students, retirees, leftist intellectuals, liberals, and nationalists. That was Romania in 2013, opposing the Rosia Montana mining project. These protests were significant because they were the largest since the 1989 revolution when Romania gained independence from the Soviet Union.
The Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources – which owns the vast majority of the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation still presents the project as “fully scoped and currently in the permitting phase” on its website and viable as a project to investors.
The people’s rage quickly erupted with the knowledge of the environmental damage to be inflicted upon the region by the mining company which included cutting the tops off of several mountain peaks and the usual liberal use of cyanide for gold mining, as well as over destruction of important historical sites. Several thousand people would have lost their homes and the private company would have been granted property expropriation rights. These are rights granted over legally owned property, and by a foreign power.
Not satisfied with just protesting as successfully as they did, the Romanian’s managed to get the entire site included in the country’s tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage. The Ministry of Culture declared the village site one of great historical interest, which included the region surrounding it in Transylvania, and has prohibited all mining activity there.
“This is not just a huge gain for our cultural heritage; it’s a great victory for civil society – for the thousands of people here and abroad who demanded for Rosia Montana to be saved” stated the president of the protest campaign, Eugen David.
Celebrations were long and loud – what a victory for the people.
However, the Canadian company still has a card up its sleeve in the form of the recently signed trade deal CETA. From Corporate Europe Observatory:
“Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources is using an investor-state lawsuit to push through its illegal toxic gold and silver mine in the historical Romanian village of Roşia Montană. The project has faced strong community resistance and is on hold after Romanian courts found that Gabriel had illegally obtained several permits required to operate the mine. Other permits have never been issued as the company failed to submit all necessary data.
But the project’s majority owner, Canadian company Gabriel Resources, is now using a parallel legal system for foreign investors in order to demand Romanians pay two per cent of the entire value of their economy in compensation for lost profits. What’s more, the mining company’s legal bills are being financially backed by a Wall Street hedge fund in return for a claim of the spoils. To avoid facing these costs the Romanian Government may be forced to open the mine after all. Gabriel could also just walk away with a vast amount of public money in compensation – and the lawsuit itself could become the company’s true goldmine. Gabriel’s claim foreshadows the massive claims which could hit the EU and its member states if trade deals such as the EU-Canada CETA get concluded and come into force.
In the end, trade deals are not about Europeans agreeing with Americans, Canadians or any other country for mutual benefit, they are far more about how big business usurps public interest for profit. Globalisation is under attack right across the world and trade deals have been their facilitator that in reality has turned the world into a one-sided playground for the rich and powerful leaving everyone else in their destructive wake.
The actions of Gabriel Resources in Romania, supported by these toxic so-called trade deals is further proof of their rabid intentions. It results in yet more anger amongst the citizens of the Western world that ends up with populists and extreme political groups getting a foot-hold to fight off the actions of aggressive corporations who will stop at nothing for profit taking because their own government’s have failed to do so.