Free trade treaties cost jobs

29 September 2014

Free trade treaties cost jobs

"Free trade treaties will also mean that some people will lose their jobs,’ said candidate-Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström on Monday, at the hearing for the new European Commission before the European Parliament Trade Committee on Monday. This is a peculiar statement in view of the fact that her forerunner, Karel De Gucht, always held firmly to the line that free trade agreements only provided winners. Malmström at last now acknowledges that there are also losers. ‘We’re going to look into this,’ she promised. SP Euro-MP Anne-Marie Mineur thinks that it’s about time too.

"The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) turns out to have for the most part created losers,’ says Mineur. "That has been investigated by the OECD. Instead of the twenty million jobs promised by Bill Clinton, NAFTA threw half a million out of work in the United States and a million in Mexico. Yet Malmström refuses to embrace the conclusions of this judgment. She won’t open new negotiations with the Americans and Canadians to scrap the Inter-State Dispute Settlement, the ISDS, the controversial tribunal in which corporations and investors can sue states when they damage their trade interests. She is also not prepared to talk to national parliaments from Europe about the free trade agreement with Canada, which will now be the first to be agreed. They are simply building a single big internal market for the European Union and North America.’

Mineur sees it as extremely strange that almost nobody is drawing attention to this massive violation of democratic decision-making. ‘A referendum was held on the European Constitution, which was the right thing to do,’ she recalls. ‘Yet removing the borders between the American, Canadian and European markets is being done silently, without anyone talking about it. Even the national parliaments weren’t permitted to discuss the Canada-Europe Trade Agreement (CETA). As for the treaty with the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the national parliaments were indeed consulted, but the treaty with Canada was already in place. The American multinationals who want to do business with Europe have long since opened subsidiaries in Canada. So why would you vote against?’

Malmström did promise more transparency around the free trade treaty. ‘We’ll be of course be holding her to this,’ says Mineur, "but it’s not sufficient to change our views. The SP won’t be supporting Malmström’s candidature.’


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