Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood has slammed the prospect of a free trade deal between the UK Government and United States under Donald Trump as opening the door to a “New TTIP”.
She has said that talk of a trade deal between the countries could mark a further “turn towards globalisation” by conservatives in the two countries.
Donald Trump’s electoral reform has been based on a rejection of extending globalisation, but Leanne Wood has reiterated that Trump’s allies and partners in the UK Government are arch-neoliberals.
The UK Government has this week indicated that it would be open to “scoping discussions” with the United States on a free trade deal. Full negotiations could only begin if and when the UK leaves the European Union. Speaking in an interview with former Tory politician Michael Gove, President-Elect Trump said he wants to “get it (a UK-US free trade deal) done quickly and properly.
The UK Conservative Government was a major supporter of TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which critics including Plaid Cymru slated as a threat to public services and as an attempt to create secret Corporate Courts. TTIP, according to Plaid Cymru, would have allowed multi-national corporations to sue democratic governments if local policy decisions harmed profit margins.
TTIP has been stalled due to opposition from campaigners and some EU member-state governments. It was also strongly criticised during scrutiny in the European Parliament.
The Plaid Cymru Leader further called for businesses and communities in Wales to be alert to the threat of trade deals with New Zealand or other countries which would not reflect the Welsh national interest. A deal with New Zealand in particular could open up Welsh markets to a greater amount of foreign agricultural imports, particularly lamb.
Plaid Cymru Leader Leanne Wood said:
“As previously stated by Plaid Cymru, UK and US relations could now result in a new TTIP.
“Neoliberal elites in the UK have not suddenly turned into protectionists, but could now turn towards accelerated globalisation through a ‘Hard Brexit’. This would be based on deregulation, privatisation and slashing consumer and worker protections.
“It would give me no pleasure to be proven right on this in the coming years. We must resist any attempts to bring back the idea of corporate courts in the guise of ‘investor-state dispute resolution’. If the UK Government and Trump make a free trade deal after Brexit happens, we should press them to rule out any impact on public services.
“The European Single Market is a better alternative. It is a free trade area but includes good standards for consumers, workers and for the environment. One of the reasons the Tories want to quit this market is to reduce these protections.
“Donald Trump’s popularity in certain states was based on a rejection of globalisation. But the corporate interests who will back a free trade deal are strong deregulators. These are the powerful lobbies who always push for more ‘free’ trade and lower social protections. The Tories in the UK have always wanted to gradually privatise the NHS, and could use a free trade deal to push that agenda and to open it up to provision by American medical firms.
“A strong campaign in the coming years could stop them doing this.
“The Conservatives are sensitive about their record on the NHS, and TTIP was unpopular with some ‘leave’ voters. Plaid Cymru reassures those people that we are also opposed to TTIP and deregulation.
“Plaid Cymru ensured that the National Assembly for Wales opposed TTIP and we would demand a say on any future deals as well.”
On the issue of trading with non-European markets post-Brexit, Leanne Wood added:
“Plaid Cymru supports trading with the United States under the current arrangements. While the main Welsh trade partner is the European Single Market, Wales has also been able to grow exports to North America without needing a TTIP deal or the secret corporate courts it would have created.
“Talk of a trade deal with New Zealand is misleading in terms of the value it would have to Wales, compared to remaining part of the Single Market. It could also be bad for Welsh lamb.
“Plaid Cymru won’t sign up to anything which threatens the Welsh agricultural sector. We urge people in Wales to continue to buy Welsh lamb where possible, to support our farmers, our language and rural communities.”
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