IATP has been tracking the impact of corporate-led globalization and trade deals on the lives of everyday people and the planet for nearly 30 years. ARC 2020 is a platform of European organizations working on better food and farming, including the impacts of global trade and trade deals on food and agriculture. Trade Secrets is an ongoing collection of primers on trade agreements and how they shape our daily lives, our workplaces and our governments.
The new round of trade agreements has the potential to redefine global trade rules for decades to come. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) both take a big leap toward advancing the power of multinational corporations and their ability to exploit people and natural resources-but they do so in different ways.
TTIP's biggest impact will be to harmonize regulations between the U.S. and E.U.-the world's two largest economies-effectively setting regulatory standards for the rest of the world to follow. Those regulations include protections for health, the environment, workers and how public money is spent - all harmonized downwards to the benefit of multinational corporations.
In TPP, the battle is over market expansion, which includes lowering tariffs, allowing multinational corporations greater access to new economies, and natural resources. Both agreements would grant corporations greater legal power over governments. Because both TPP and TTIP are largely being negotiated in secret, the substance of negotiations, positions of negotiators and debate about all is limited to an exclusive group of negotiators and corporate-driven trade advisory groups. As is often the case, trade fights often come down to secrecy and exclusion versus transparency and debate. The more negotiations and texts remain secret, the less civil society, the media, legislators and everyday people can become seriously engaged in the trade debate. The more public engagement, the more the real-world implications of the trade agreements become apparent and the more likely trade agreements will fail to materialize in the light of their exploitative design.