In 2016, and within less than 3 months after the vote to leave the European Union, Liam Fox privately met with US trade officials to begin secret talks with US right-wing groups including those from the US Healthcare industry; to put down the roots for an extremely anti-democratic US/UK Trade deal which would include pharmaceuticals, food, and the NHS!
From that came a group called the IFT which was launched in September 2017 at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, with speeches by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Trade Secretary Liam Fox..
It’s official document has now been leaked because they, in error, published it on the internet.
They claim that IFT is Britain’s only research institute dedicated solely to trade policy, but has the aim of ensuring that as a result of the EU Ref vote to leave the world’s largest trading bloc; Britain liberalises its trade policy, and ditches the precautionary approach of both the EU and previously that of the UK alone, and allows for the importation into the UK market of US standards on products, services and healthcare.
The approach in the US to anything new, is that it is allowed to go to market until or if a proven health risk arises some years later.
This means that food safety standards based on the US system will take over from EU safety standards in food, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and in financial services, in any Trade Deal with the US following the end of the currently being agreed ‘transition period’ in 2021.
In February of this year, The Guardian newspaper took apart the newly leaked IFT document entitled ‘US → UK Shadow Trade Talks And An Ideal FTA’
It’s policy editor, Michael Savage wrote:
“An unprecedented drive to lobby ministers to ditch strict EU safety standards in order to secure a US trade deal is being drawn up by a transatlantic group of conservative thinktanks, it has emerged.
Organisers of the self-styled “shadow trade talks”, which are set to include 10 leading rightwing and libertarian groups from the UK and the US, are preparing to push their “ideal free trade agreement” that would allow the import of US meats, drugs and chemicals banned in Britain.”
The article then goes on to detail those involved:
“The conservative groups involved include the Heritage Foundation, which has pushed for the lifting of environmental protections, and the Cato Institute, co-founded by billionaire oil barons Charles and David Koch. In Britain the project is being overseen by the Initiative for Free Trade (IFT), an organisation founded by the hard-Brexit advocate and Tory MEP Daniel Hannan.”
In a reference to the document’s page 7, Michael Savage says:
“….the groups will “hash out an ‘ideal’ US-UK free trade agreement (FTA)” that includes Britain recognising US standards which are widely seen as weaker than those adopted by the EU. Such a move would allow imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-reared beef to be sold in the UK for the first time.
“An ideal US-UK FTA would focus on mutual recognition of standards and qualifications for goods and occupations,” states the document, which was uncovered by Greenpeace’s investigative unit. “IFT wants to show policymakers what the potential gains are from such a deal, so that the final agreement ends up being somewhere close to the ideal.
“US exporters of agricultural produce – beef, for instance – would have a brand new market to sell to, and British consumers a cheaper alternative to the current options.”
But the tearing up of the EU’s principle that business has to prove something is safe before being sold to consumers, rather than as in the US anything can be sold, and then wait for it to be proven to be unsafe; is the biggest threat to the health and the safety of citizens of the UK!
In the USA businesses are legally allowed to damage the health of, or even kill an individual with their newly developed product before it can be then argued legally it should be banned from sale in its present form! And that only after several years of litigation through an American system skewed in favour of big business.
The project will include two rounds of mock trade negotiations among figures from the 10 groups, adds Michael Savage.
“The document even claims that a civil servant from Liam Fox’s department for international trade will attend. The department said it had never heard of the initiative and had not received an invitation.”, he concludes.
Greenpeace UK’s policy director Dr Doug Parr is quoted as saying in response:
“This network of secretive pressure groups is trying to hijack US-UK trade talks to impose its anti-regulation agenda. They want a free-for-all Brexit that waters down rules on food safety, animal welfare and nature protection. It’s the exact opposite of the green vision promised by Theresa May.”
But, the most undemocratic aspect of any Trade Deal with the USA is the now publicly known 'investor-state dispute mechanism' (ISDS), which allows companies to sue states if they feel their investment has been negatively affected by government policy decisions.
This will result in any future government of the UK thinking twice before trying to change any laws that may have a bearing on food standards, safety standards, animal welfare, the pharmaceutical industry and the environment.
Because big multi-national corporations will be able to sue the UK government for billions of dollars in the event changes to the laws of the UK impinge upon their existing or even FUTURE profits, which will directly threaten any plans that a future Labour Government might have to make the NHS wholly owned by the public again!
You can download the leaked dossier by clicking on the cover pic above.
Source: The Guardian / Huffington Post / 38 Degrees / unionsafety