Hundreds in Moray lobby over international trade concerns

HUNDRED’S OF EMAILS and letters expressing concerns over what have been described as “secret” transatlantic trade deals which threaten public services have been flooding in to the office of Moray’s MP.

Described by pressure group Global Justice Now as the “corporate power land grab of the decade”, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has seen the European Union drawing up a new trade deal that it is claimed would allow large corporations to sue governments if they make policy decisions that could harm their future profits.

The proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the United States would, according to those promoting the plan, result in multilateral economic growth – while opponents say it would make it difficult to regular markets for the public benefit.

Speaking after the SNP group at Westminster had secured an Adjournment Debate on the issue at the House of Commons, Moray’s Angus Robertson MP said: “Hundreds of people across Moray have contacted me on this issue and they are rightly concerned about the scope of this treaty negotiation, the potential impact on our valued public services like the NHS and Scottish Water and secretive and clouded manner in which the negotiation is being conducted.

“While there is great potential in opening up US markets to Scottish firms, the SNP remains deeply concerned about some key aspects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.

“In particular, we believe that the Conservative Government must make it clear to our European partners and to the US that there must be an explicit exemption for the NHS and Scottish Water, to ensure that the Scottish Government could not be sued by private firms because of their policies or actions relating to public healthcare.

“Governments in Scotland, the UK and beyond must be able to manage these services for the greater good without fear that their democratic mandate is overruled in the courts. That would be completely unacceptable and total undermining of the decisions of the people made through the ballot box.

“There are other aspects of the treaty that are entirely unclear and we have made it absolutely plain throughout the process that we must see more transparency so that a full and informed debate can take place on all aspects of the proposals.

“The UK Government must also set out how the Westminster Parliament will be able to scrutinise the final proposal before it is ratified.

“We must have a full debate on this important matter before the final Treaty is agreed.”

TTIP is aimed at eliminating almost all tariffs on trade between the EU and USA – however, opponents insist that it would lead to lower standards of consumer and environmental protection.

Political parties in the UK largely side-stepped the issue during the general election campaign, although the major UK parties are thought to be broadly in favour. A summit of EU leaders last year called for an agreement on the issue by the end of this year, but that is thought to be an unrealistic target.

A briefing on the issue was submitted to the House of Commons Library earlier this month.