For those doubting Brexit

There have been a few issues with the EU, some are petty and some only seem petty. You see, many are all in arms and all about the issue on how Canada is a good place, and it really really is. Yet, we have to understand that a trade agreement tends to be an agreement where one is better off than the other. That is a simple fact of life. A trade agreement, when completely balanced equally to all parties is a figment of the imagination of the visionary who wanted it, for the simple reason that it was in their interest. Now, that does not make the person evil or greedy, it is merely the reality of any trade agreement. Yet, when the trade agreement is done in secret, there will be additional issues. This is not such a case, but in the case of CETA (at https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/oct/24/belgium-eu-ultimatum-canada-trade-deal-ceta-wallonia), there is the image that French speaking Belgium (aka Wallonia) will miss out too much in this EU-Canada deal, so they are all about not letting it happen. The article gives us ‘Paul Magnette, the leader of the Wallonia region, says the deal is bad for Europe’s farmers and gives too much power to global corporate interests‘, which would give ample voice to the justification of Wallonia trying to scuttle this deal. It does not make Canada bad or evil, it only gives voice to the European side that Wallonian farmers lose out, from their point of view too much. This shows partially the justification of Brexit; yet in equal measure it shows how the Bremain group feels scared and scarred as well as their justification that together the UK would be stronger. On one side they have a point, on the other side, we see here that if Wallonia gives in, the EU basically sells their future short and away from them. The quote “One European diplomat said that the reassurances “responded to all of Mr Magnette’s concerns”” implies that Magnette is unreasonable as reassurances were given, yet we have all seen how politicians can roll on their backs when the wind turns, so is he wrong? In this case I very much doubt it, as does politico (at http://www.politico.eu/article/meet-monsieur-paul-magnette-the-man-killing-ceta-deal-trade-agreement/). Here we see two mentions. The first is “Wallonia did its homework” as well as “In particular, he protested that CETA would leave European governments vulnerable to court action from unscrupulous multinational companies“, these are issues raised in both the TTIP and the TPP. In the TPP it was New Zealand that showed backbone, whilst Australia folded like a tissue in front of a hair dryer on high, it was not a pretty picture. We have had several issues with the US in the past, yet not with Canada. It is my personal believe that large corporations are dictating the trade agreement language to governments at large, which is cause for concern in two ways.

In the first it means that the governments are not enough about governing and a little too much regarding the status quo of the Fortune 500 they have connections to and in the second it implies that they overall quality of government legislators is dwindling too much and as such national interests are not being met, which now implies that proper taxation laws are about a decade away and nations at large cannot afford to work that way.

In that light the quote in Politico seems pretty decent: ““This treaty affects the lives of 500 million Europeans and 35 million Canadians for years and years,” Magnette told La Première channel Wednesday. “We can take a few weeks, a few months to analyse the problems and overcome them.”” Is that such a bad idea? The fact that a decision is demanded in less than 12 hours gives additional cause for concern. Why the speed?

Canadian Global Research had this quote “The CETA agreement –presented to public opinion as an innocuous “bilateral” EU-Canada trade deal– constitutes a TTIP in disguise, which would eventually evolve towards the integration of NAFTA and the EU, i.e into what might be described as a giant “North Atlantic Trade and Investment Area”. Those who are involved in the negotiations are fully aware that CETA is a back-door mechanism which would would create the underlying conditions for the formation of a North Atlantic Trading Block, i.e. a US “Imperial Project” controlled by Washington“.

This now implies that this is a new approach to TTIP, a backdoor. The part where we see “US “Imperial Project” controlled by Washington“, gives voice to the part that I have given for close to two years. The United States of America is broke and bankrupt. This is the only path that the US has left to remain in the game for a little while longer, whilst giving 98% of American power to large corporations, which n my humble opinion was never a working or acceptable solution. The fact that pressures are applied to get this done quicker and quicker only gives rise to the fact that this American Democratic administration could end up being the worst in American history and this administration needs a clear ‘win’ to be less regarded as less of a failure. What a legacy President Obama brings, no matter how this goes, it will make progression for the next US administration near impossible, so we can see why the Clinton campaign was against the TTIP to begin with. In addition, the Canadian Tyee (at http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2016/10/22/CETA-Failure-Reflects-Public-Rejection-Trade-Deals/), gives us “Leaving aside the odd reference to how nice Canada is, this is remarkable language that lays bare the obvious frustration and disappointment for the government, which prioritized the CETA agreement above all trade deals“, in that my personal response becomes: ‘drop the option to large corporations to sue governments‘, first they get tax breaks, now they get to sue for missed alleged profits? When did we get ourselves so retarded that this: “Currently, the US Lone Pine energy company is using ISDS provisions in NAFTA to sue the provincial government of Quebec for $250 million because it suspended shale gas mining pending an environmental study in response to community concerns“? How on earth was the mining of Shale Gas ever allowed before clear environmental studies were made?

Environmental regulations are there for a reason. When the environment is damaged, these companies tend to get really far and away when the invoice is due, trying all kinds of loopholes not to be held accountable. The Australian Newspaper The Age gives us “The high cost of ISDS makes the threat of arbitration a potent tool for the tobacco companies“, meaning that in not so wealthy countries, Tobacco, Soda drinks and alcohol companies can hold a nation over a barrel when they can find an option to apply the ISDS. Australia Spend $50 million to defend its plain packaging requirement in cigarettes. A system that allows for Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), where we see the issue of alleged discriminatory practices is too dangerous. In addition, the proven dangers of tobacco, how many people died and were not compensated? How discriminatory is that?

Yet the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade gives us “Is ISDS a threat to Australia’s sovereignty? No. ISDS does not prevent the Government from changing its policies or regulating in the public interest. It does not freeze existing policy settings. It is not enough that an investor does not agree with a new policy or that a policy adversely affects its profits”, yet this is the opposite of what we see when we the Australian case of Philip Morris. The fact that only 5 days ago, News.com.au (at http://www.news.com.au/national/breaking-news/govt-wont-reveal-tobacco-case-costs/news-story/7a81f7003241d0290685b5ce1d83f6db) gives us “Nick Xenophon wants to know what it cost taxpayers to defend the case, but the department insists it needs to be kept secret“, it gives light to the danger that the ISDS poses, it shows that Paul Magnette, the leader of the Wallonia region seems to be a lot more clued in and a lot more on the ball than those trying to get this dangerous trade pact passed and in addition, the fact that court costs are kept secret means that the taxpayer is not getting properly informed. The ISDS is more than just investors feeling safe, it is a secondary tool to get revenue up when the forecast gets downgraded by (amongst others) environmental needs and governmental freedom to set policy, although some deny that this is happening now (like the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), yet the fact that the cost is kept in secret gives indication that the sum is likely to be running towards the 9 digits, whilst it was about opposition on a health policy. Two cases like this could make most Eastern European EU nations bankrupt overnight, so there is cause for concern and in that Paul Magnette has a clear mindset in requiring more time.

In all this, the one part that is not making sense is that the ISDS could be seen that this is to protect non-visionary investors, investors that aren’t doing their homework, to give an additional option to get their money’s worth. Why on earth are we facilitating for corporate losers? If for example a UK company decides to cut corners and go for places where they learn that they are blocked, why would we give them any allowance for suing the UK government? If this example seems fair fetched, consider Philip Morris Asia Limited (Hong Kong) v. The Commonwealth of Australia. They might have lost, but the costs were really high. And this was whilst plain packaging was already in place. So getting rid of parts, or better the ISDS as a whole, would be a decent idea. Let’s not forget that if these companies were truly wronged, most common law nations have the option of proceeding through Torts.

Giving them additional options seems too far-fetched and in the end only counterproductive. No matter how many tears Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s trade minister brings to the table. In that part I wonder, why she had not considered removing the ISDS. Let’s face it, if investment is too dicey or dodgy, those companies should not go there to begin with, would that not be common sense? So why drive the ISDS? Perhaps I am oversimplifying the problem. I know that the ISDS makes sense, yet the Australian Philip Morris case shows the ISDS parts to be flawed and in light of how American and Chinese companies play the game, it is time to face the harsh reality that facilitation is becoming the lesser healthy alternative. In the end if there is profit, these companies will come.

So in the end, this was not about Brexit, but here we see in clarity, that this one market deal is not as great for the people at large as they think it is. For those only iterating that a one market deal is the only way, consider Wallonia, no matter how you slice it, people will lose out and if the court case is strong enough, you could lose a lot. A side that the Bremainers are not giving a clear view to, which is equally disturbing. There are elements on both sides, yet the disturbing one that Paul Magnette is bringing to light is one that too many have ignored. Brexit might end up giving the UK options and protections, that the EU trade agreements are currently trying to remove from the UK.

 

 

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