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TTIP: UK Government found trade deal had ’lots of risk and no benefit’ in its only assessment

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The Independent | 25 April 2016

TTIP: UK Government found trade deal had ’lots of risk and no benefit’ in its only assessment

by Hazel Sheffield

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will have "few or no benefits to the UK", according to the only official assessment of the deal commissioned by the UK Government.

The stark warning was disclosed in response to a Freedom of Information request by anti-TTIP campaigners Global Justice Now.

Campaigners filed a request to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills to ask what risk assessments had been made about the treaty.

BIS said it had carried out only one such review in 2013, when the London School of Economics was commissioned to conduct a study.

The study found that TTIP would have limited political and economic benefits and may result on "meaningful economic costs in the UK".

"All in all, it is doubtful that UK investors will find additional protections from an EU-US investment protection treaty beyond those currently provided, and enforced, under US law," the study found.

Supporters of TTIP say that it could boost the European and US economies by hundreds of billions of dollars by making it easier for companies on either side of the Atlantic to trade with one another.

Opponents say TTIP could give corporations the power to sue governments when they pass regulation that could hit that corporation’s profits through an international court called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).

United Nations figures have shown that that US companies have made billions of dollars by suing other governments nearly 130 times in the past 15 years under similar free-trade agreements.

Details of the cases are often secret, but notorious precedents include the tobacco giant Philip Morris suing Australia and Uruguay for putting health warnings on cigarette packets.

"Ultimately, we conclude that an EU-US investment treaty that does contain ISDS is likely to have few or no benefits to the UK, while having meaningful economic and political costs," the report said.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now said the findings show the treaty could have harmful consequences for ordinary people.

"Introducing a system of secret corporate courts under TTIP would be a fundamental shift in trade and legal policies, so it’s staggering that the government is pushing us into it with almost no assessment of what the risks are for our policy makers or the tax payer," he said.

The revelations come as UK Prime Minister David Cameron travels to join Obama, Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to discuss TTIP in Germany.

Obama’s trip to Europe has been seen as an effort to drum up support for TTIP before the end of his time in the White House. He has been pushing for its completition since parties were scheduled to sign in 2014, promising the treaty would remove “regulatory and bureaucratic irritants and blockages to trade."

“If we don’t complete negotiations this year, then upcoming political transitions — in the United States and Europe — could mean this agreement won’t be finished for quite some time," he said.

 source: The Independent