Vince Cable letter to MPs on TTIP: a point-by-point refutation

23 September 2014 - 4:00pm

War on Want members and supporters have been contacting their MPs to protest about the dangers of TTIP, the EU-US trade deal that threatens to undermine jobs, public services and our democracy itself. Now MPs have been contacted by Vince Cable, the Secretary of State responsible for the negotiations, with a letter trying to downplay our concerns. The letter is a wilful misrepresentation of the truth, and we have been asked to provide a blow-by-blow refutation of his claims. (For those who would like an introduction to what TTIP is, see the piece in our magazine here.)


Vince Cable claims that "plausible economic studies suggest that a successful agreement between the EU and the US could bring economic benefits of up to £10 billion annually to the UK." Nothing could be farther from the truth. His own government has already admitted to us in private meetings that these claims are anything but plausible, and that no one takes them seriously. For more detail on the true economic impact of TTIP, and the widespread rejection of the government figures, read our mythbuster for MPs here.


To suggest that TTIP will bring more jobs is a perversion of the official impact assessments. According to the main report commissioned at the start of the negotiations, TTIP will lead to the direct loss of at least one million jobs in the EU and USA combined. If the negotiations conclude with the 'ambitious' deal that they hope for, then at least two million people will lose their jobs. For full details, click here.


It is also completely untrue to suggest that small firms will benefit more from TTIP. The consequence of almost all free trade agreements has been the further concentration of markets in favour of monopoly capital, not smaller enterprises. For this reason, the association of German small businesses, the BVMW, has rejected entirely the new powers that TTIP would give to big business. See their arguments (in German) here.


It is entirely disingenuous for Cable to suggest that TTIP aims to maintain high environmental and labour standards. The entire point of TTIP is to remove the regulations that corporations have identified as 'barriers' to their operation, including through the 'mutual recognition' process that he accepts will continue. For more detail on this, read War on Want's longer study on the threat of TTIP here.


Cable is conscious that many people are concerned about the threat of TTIP to the NHS - and rightly so. His claim that the NHS is safe from privatisation under TTIP rings particularly hollow, seeing that his government is responsible for having already opened up the public service to private providers through the Health & Social Care Act 2012. Ken Clarke MP, who was previously responsible for promoting TTIP to the British public, admitted openly that the NHS is vulnerable under TTIP, and the European Commission has also confirmed that health services are included in the TTIP negotiations. Read our full account of this here.


Cable also tries to downplay fears over the new rights that TTIP will grant US corporations to sue the UK and other European states before secret courts. Yet the government's own impact assessment, commissioned from the London School of Economics, has stated clearly that we will face an onslaught of these claims from US corporations if we sign up to TTIP, with no extra investment as a result. The European Commission was forced to hold a public consultation on these controversial new powers earlier in the year, and they received a record 150,000 responses telling them to reject them outright. For more on this investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), see here


Finally, Cable suggests that it is unfair to accuse the government of a lack of transparency over the EU-US negotiations. Yet even his own government officials have complained to us that they are being kept in the dark by the European Commission! All the key documents relating to the TTIP negotiations have been marked with a 30-year ban on public access, and our own elected MPs have no access to anything but the 'position papers' (propaganda) of the EU. In trade negotiations, there is no substitute for the detailed negotiating documents themselves, and these are completely hidden from all of us except through leaks.


War on Want rejects the specious arguments put forward by Vince Cable to 'reassure' people over TTIP. We encourage all citizens to contact their MPs and to voice their concerns in the strongest possible terms. TTIP represents the greatest single transfer of power to transnational capital that we have seen in a generation. It is up to us to stop it.

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