The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the U.S. and Europe had its 14th round of talks in July this year, after over two years of negotiations. Cecilia Malmstrom, who serves as European Commissioner for Trade, is leading the negotiations, which appear – on the surface – to be failing.
Two weeks ago, Germany’s vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said that the talks had ‘de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.’ Of the 27 chapters of TTIP already deliberated, no consensus has been forthcoming on any of them.
Back in May, French president Francois Hollade stated that he would ‘never accept’ the current TTIP proposals because of rules relating to both farming and French culture. He also said that in its present guise it is too U.S. friendly.
All this has led to Global Justice Now, one of the main voices in opposition to global trade deals, to come out and insist the negotiations be stopped and TTIP scrapped altogether. They cite a corporate grab for power over the well-being of ordinary citizens as a prime reason to curtail the deal.
A report on Sputnik went into detail about why they think negotiations are without an agreement thus far. Here are some of the reasons cited:
- European farmers and agricultural lobbyists are concerned about geographical marks on products, and fear a ratified deal will mean cheaper U.S. goods flooding the market and putting them out of business.
- European norm prohibits selling products until they are proven safe for people and the environment. Farmers say a deal will result in cheap meat containing hormones coming onto the market.
- The U.S. is insisting that countries not introduce export subsidies for agricultural goods exported to other nations.
- The U.S. does not want to allow access of its government procurement programs to Europe, such as the American railway transportation market. Europe wants broader access to procurement in some U.S. states.
- Europe has proposed lifting restrictions in the financial sector. Chief amongst them is a desire to lift the maximum rate of ownership of American telecom companies from 20% to 51%, meaning European nations could own a branch outright on U.S. soil.
- Europe wants supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from America, reducing reliance on Gazprom (Russian gas provider). The U.S. has blocked this from happening – legal barriers restrict LNG exports from the East Coast of America.
- The U.S. wants to impose on Europe the American regulatory analysis mechanism which would increase costs for adopting new laws and standards.
- The U.S. opposes replacing its arbitration courts with transparent national commercial courts to settle disputes.
The gist of these problems appear to stem from the U.S. seeking a greater share of the deal with Europe acquiescing to the bulk of American demands.
The question can be asked as to whether America’s pursuit of hegemony in this deal is actually a plant that has ensured the talks are set up to fail.
Sputnik’s article concluded on a pondering note: Should TTIP negotiations remain stagnant and the U.S. congress fails to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) this year, then the most important part of Barack Obama’s foreign policy agenda will fail before he leaves office in January 2017.
Here are some aspects to TTIP worth considering:
If the deal is genuinely in trouble, then it perhaps represents how the campaign by activists – notably in Germany – to stop TTIP is having the desired effect. Add to that comments by prominent political figures within the EU, and it gives the impression that those in power are starting to renege on any potential deal.
Ultimately, TTIP is a vehicle for manifesting corporate hegemony. So are the hidden architects of it – the globalist elites – failing to influence governments and other bureaucratic circles to push a deal through?
Bare in mind that almost three years of work has gone into the negotiations. If they are stalling then it stands to reasons that those behind the inception of TTIP will not go quietly. Galvanising enough support to have TTIP ratified by the time Obama leaves office now appears impossible. So are we looking at a genuine fail by the globalists here? Or something else?
We would do well to remember that globalists, for all their strengths at manipulating the world, are not infallible. But we should also keep to mind that if they are losing this fight then they will already be devising a strategy to form a way out into something equally or more profound. Should TTIP be abandoned, then it leaves the door open for a much greater attempt at banding the world’s nations together via trade agreements.
Nick Deardon of Global Justice Now commented recently on the apparent unraveling of the TTIP negotiations by saying that he believes the agreement could be sacrificed ‘in order to save the wider agenda of which TTIP is one part.’
Which makes you wonder – could TTIP and its brethren be a vehicle towards a much bigger enactment of centralisation, which has subsequently grown beyond just TTIP, TPP and CETA?
At present, it is voices from France and Germany that are casting the most doubt over TTIP coming to fruition. But are their protestations based on what is actually happening? French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last week that, ‘The agreement on the table is, under these conditions, unacceptable. We need a clear halt in order to resume from a new basis.’
A ‘clear halt’ is not the same thing as saying the negotiations have failed. Matthias Fekl, who is French minister for foreign trade, recently said that there is no more political support for the deal and called on France to end negotiations. However, he then said that, ‘we need a clear and definitive halt to these negotiations in order to RESTART on a good foundation.’
Next it was Frank – Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister, who came out and said that the U.S. and EU are ‘far away’ on a deal and that there is work to do on the standards for an agreement.
German Prime Minister Angela Merkel insists – albeit rather meekly – that TTIP is a good deal after saying, ‘I believe that such an agreement would mean job opportunities for us and we urgently need jobs in Europe’.
Coincidence or otherwise, the two dissenting voices here represent the two countries that over the summer were chosen as the venues for acts of terrorism by the West’s creation of ISIS.
For TTIP to ever be written into law, all EU members must ratify the deal, which is negotiated by the European Commission on behalf of member states.
Let’s now switch attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and see how far along it is compared to TTIP.
On the 20th June 2016, Michael Froman, who is the U.S. Trade Representative leading the TPP negotiations, spoke during an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR was founded after the first world war in 1921, and is intricately connected to the Rockefeller family.
Discussing the TPP negotiations, Mr. Froman gave some interesting insight into where the talks are up to. Here is a brief outline of some of the things he said:
Asked about when TPP could happen, Mr. Froman said that the earliest it could be voted on in Congress is during what is known as the ‘Lame Duck’ session in America. This is the period between the next U.S. president being announced in November to when he or she takes office in January. If no ratification of TPP is agreed this year, however, then there is no clear timescale as to when it could happen. 2016 has been defined as the year when it needs to be signed.
Emphasised also was the need for accelerated progress on the deal, via a ‘creative, non-ideological approach to resolving issues.’
Mr. Froman made clear that any re-negotiation of TPP under a new president would be very complex, and said that it could lead to the deal ‘unraveling itself.‘ This comment came after both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – America’s candidates for the next president – had both expressed doubt on the deal.
In October 2015, Hillary Clinton went on the record as saying she was not fully supportive of TPP. Her reasons included safeguards against currency manipulation not being part of the deal – here she cited ASIA as a cause for lost jobs in America due to said manipulation. She then said that pharmaceutical companies stood to gain more benefits, and doesn’t think the agreement will create jobs, raise wages or advance national security.
Recently during a televised campaign, Donald Trump also commented on TPP, saying it had been designed for China to ‘enter through the back door‘ and take advantage. He went on to say that he would prefer individual trade deals with other countries, and, like with Hillary Clinton, raised concern about the dangers of currency manipulation and how China in particular could take advantage.
Unlike Hillary Clinton, however, Donald Trump emphatically said that he would withdraw the U.S. from the TPP agreement.
In regards to China, they are not part of the TPP negotiations. Mr Froman said at the CFR that the TPP talks were ‘not about containing China‘ but about ‘setting high standards‘. He said openly that China needs to ‘up its game‘ and be ‘more competitive on trade regulations‘.
According to the Brookings Institution, an American ‘Think Tank‘, the most fundamental challenge of the TPP project regarding China was that ‘it may not constitute a powerful enough enticement to propel China to sign on to these new standards on trade and investment.’ So far, China has reacted by accelerating its own trade initiatives in Asia.
In August this year, President Obama was asked about TPP during a White House press conference in relation to comments from both presidential candidates. His answer was completely in keeping with his globalist masters:
Well, right now I’m president. And I’m for it. And I think I’ve got the better argument. We are part of a global economy. We are not reversing that…It can’t be reversed.
Of considerable importance here is how in June 2016, the American Senate approved giving Obama ‘fast track’ authority to negotiate TPP without the threat of Congress adding amendments or procrastinating on a final deal. This prevents legislators from adding amendments that might slow down the deal’s progress.
Now to look briefly at a less well known trade deal that is currently being negotiated.
CETA is the ‘Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement’ which is being negotiated between the EU and Canada. It is a similar set up to TTIP in its range of scope.
However, leaked minutes from a foreign affairs / trade council meeting on May 13th 2016 revealed some areas of contention between participating states at the time.
During the meeting, Germany and Austria stressed the need for CETA to form a ‘mixed agreement’ with TTIP. France agreed to this motion. Italy on the other hand said a provisional application should not depend on ratification by national parliaments. Germany went on to say that no member state had spoken out against CETA being a mixed agreement with TTIP.
Germany’s position on this seems key to a successful negotiation. They continued by stating that if Cecilia Malmstrom, who fronted the talks, remained of the view for no mixed agreement, whilst the perspective of individual states was mixed, Germany and others would feel that something was being pushed through without any parliamentary debate. France supported these comments.
They concluded by saying that if Cecilia Malmstrom’s assessment on the legal nature of CETA differs to their own, representatives of state governments must reconvene for talks.
Since then, on 5th July 2016, the European Commission formally proposed to the Council of the EU the signature and conclusion of the agreement. This is the latest news on CETA. As of writing, the deal has not yet been officially ratified by national parliaments, and there remains doubt that it will be.
Given the evident hostility on display here, it appears that TPP is – at present – in a healthier position than both TTIP and CETA.
But are any of these trade deals necessary for the globalist elites to achieve hegemony of global trade?
This is where the added complexity of a forth trade agreement comes into play.
TISA stands for ‘Trade in Services Agreement‘. Unlike TTIP, TPP and CETA, it focuses on services as opposed to goods.
Negotiations for TISA are taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Participants in the talks far outweigh those represented in TTIP, TPP and CETA. 50 parties (including the EU’s 28 members) representing 70% of the world’s trade in services are included.
Russia and China are not part of the TISA discussions. Neither are the B.R.I.C.S countries as a whole (Brazil, Russia, India, China).
Talks are up to the 19th round and far advanced, with a possible agreement by the end of 2016.
What’s interesting is that negotiations are taking place outside of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) framework.
Public Services International go into the reasons for this in a research paper on TISA, which can be found here
An extract from the paper is quite revealing:
The TISA negotiations are fundamentally different from previous plurilateral negotiations in the WTO context because key participants, particularly the U.S., are unwilling to automatically extend the results to all other WTO members on an MFN (most favoured means) basis. Instead, the whole point of the TISA is to pressure major developing countries into joining the agreement.
The General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) was first introduced in January 1995. They cite themselves as, ‘creating a credible and reliable system of international trade rules, ensuring fair and equitable treatment of all participants, stimulating economic activity through guaranteed policy bindings and promoting trade and development through progressive liberalization.‘
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) came into being in conjunction with GATS in 1995. Before the WTO it was the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), which began after the second world war in 1948. The WTO describes itself as ‘a forum for governments to negotiate trade agreements.’
The TISA agreement is being crafted in order to be compatible with GATS, enabling participating countries to apply pressure to remaining WTO members – which include Russia and China – to come on board with TISA in the future.
Participants of TISA are also part of or connected to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD has 35 members. Russia and China are not direct members, but the OECD ‘works closely with emerging economies likes China.’
A couple of years ago, Wikileaks issued a secret draft text of the TISA agreement, giving the first real insight into what the ramifications would be if implemented. Here is a run down:
- A boost to cross border data flow, allowing uninhibited exchange of personal and financial data
- Further deregulation of services e.g. financial
- Free financial regulation at existing levels, meaning governments could not respond to new developments like a global financial crisis
- Would lock in privatisations of services, even where private services had failed – meaning governments could never return water, energy, health, education or any other private service back to public ownership
- Restrict government ability to regulate sectors like finance, energy, telecommunications and cross – border data flows
- Would restrict government ability to regulate stronger standards in the public’s interest like environmental regulations, licensing of health facilities and laboratories, waste disposal, power plants, school and university accreditation and broadcast licenses
- Mandates global rules affecting internet use
- Prohibits countries from enacting free and open source software mandates. When issues of national security are at risk, nations can require suppliers to disclose their proprietary source code. TISA prohibits this.
- A move from national laws implemented by individual nations to Supranational laws mandated by corporate powers
- Sovereign governments would be restricted from legislating protection for their own populations
Additional to this list is a warning from Nick Deardon at Global Justice Now, who says that some migrant workers could be classed as ‘independent’ service suppliers’ and would not have the right to the minimum wage or to join a union.
From these revelations alone, it is clear how TISA carries with it infinitely more power than TTIP, TPP and CETA combined.
Two keys parts of TISA are the ‘Ratchet Clause‘ and the ‘Stand Still Clause‘. The Ratchet Clause would lock in privatisation and ensure that once a public service is privatised, it cannot be returned to the public sector. The Stand Still Clause would mean that countries could not pass new regulations that might give foreign companies worse treatment.
In response to TISA, Alfred de Zayas, who is UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, said the following. Bare in mind that Alfred de Zayas determines if proposed treaties meet standards of international law:
TISA is a trade deal prepared and negotiated in secret, excluding key stakeholders such as labour unions, consumer applications, health professionals and environmental experts and now parliament, meaning it has zero democratic legitimacy. Disfranchising the public from participating in this important debate is undemocratic and manifests a profound disregard to people’s voices. States must not enter into agreements that delay, circumvent, hinder or make impossible the fulfilment of human rights treaty obligations.
Two ontologies seem to have been lost in the ideologically-driven corporate narrative. Firstly, the ontology of the State, its raison d’être to legislate in the public interest, including preventative measures to avert potential harm to the population. Secondly, the ontology of business, which is to take calculated risks for profit.
Eric Zuesse commented in the same article that, ‘de Zayas meant there that these proposed treaties, which would enable the latter to override the former — enable international investors to override national sovereignty of democratic nations, and which would impose their own system of ‘arbitration’ that isn’t required to adhere to any nation’s laws and constitution — violate international law.‘
Is it possible that the UN has strategically positioned itself here in the event that TISA is enacted? The UN is portrayed in the mainstream as a ‘peacekeeping’ force – a subversion of the truth – and Alfred de Zayas words could be interpreted as the UN preparing itself for the moment when they stand before the world and declare, ‘we did warn you so.’ Keep in mind that the overall agenda of global governance has the United Nations at its core. The UN’s ‘Agenda 21′ and ‘Agenda 30’ documents are vital in understanding this dynamic.
James Hall at Global Research has written an intriguing piece about TISA and referred to the agreement as a ‘Commerce Clause for the New World Order.‘ He said that individual nations are in the process of subordinating their autonomy to become part of the intercontinental club, under the banner of a ‘Community of Nations.’ This would mean nations becoming servants to decrees from EU bureaucrats, jurists at The Hague and banksters at the Bank of International Settlements.
Ultimately, said James Hall, the elites who mastermined these trade deals, and use the vehicle of government to impose them onto the public, want the extinction of the nation state. And it is the trade agreements we have looked at that work to hasten the global assimilation into a commercial system where only ‘obedient vassals participate‘.
Russia and China in particular are two countries that are not being positioned by the mainstream as ‘obedient vassals‘. Instead, these two nations are steadily playing their part in representing the false paradigm of the East versus the West.
In terms of trade, I think TISA represents a blueprint for the direction the globalists elites intend to take us. It is not the complete package. But if it is ratified by the end of 2016, as has been planned, then opening up virtually all services to exploitation and corporate ownership will work to gradually erode the sovereignty of individual nation states and assimilate countries into a system of global governance.
Just examine the language coming from political figures in regards to all but TISA – ‘we need a clear halt in order to resume from a new basis’, ‘RESTART on a good foundation’, ‘de facto failed’, ‘re-negotiation could lead to the deal unraveling itself.‘
There has also been efforts from member states to ‘mix’ TTIP with CETA, which could be seen as a ploy of taking two deals down with a single shot if negotiations fail.
Then there is the non-committal stance of Hillary Clinton and the vow from Donald Trump to withdraw from TTP altogether.
Exactly how important are these agreements to the wider agenda?
And all the while no politician or establishment figurehead has come out and even alluded to the existence of TISA. Ask yourself why that might be.
This is why I believe that TISA could be a foil for TTIP, TPP and CETA. It is possible that these three trade deals may yet collapse and never been enacted. But what if it has been designed this way? The painful truth here is that the abandonment of these three agreements would not be, as activists would claim, an example of people power having won the day. Not if the TISA Agreement slips by barely noticed and signed into law. And remember, 70% of the world’s trade in services is behind this deal.
As I have written about in my articles on the The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and other pieces, many different facets are now coming together to form the conflict necessary between one side of the world and the other. Trade agreements are just one part of the connection. Connect all the facets together, however, and the fuller picture will begin to emerge.