Free trade as smoke and mirrors

Apparently I should be grateful for a local parlament in Belgium, as it may well be capable of blocking the free trade deal, CETA, between Canada and the EU. It is not because I have a problem with free trade, on the contrary (though I have recently become aware of this research and stories like this and this – maybe I am more for free trade of goods than free movement of capital).

My problem with CETA, the even worse TPP (for the pacific nations) and what we know about the upcoming TTIP (between the USA and the EU), is that it is a deal that is only masquerading as a free trade deal. There are provisions about free trade there but that is definitely not all there is. OK, granted, I am relying on someone elses summary, as I have not read the 1,598 page almost-complete agreement, but I believe them to be reliable.

CETA also includes provisions for Investor-State Dispute Settlements, a sort of corporate sovereignty, that will effectively function as arbitrators for big businesses or multinational companies, enabling them to sue the states there. Apparently, this is deemed necessary because our national courts cannot be trusted to pass a fair judgement in such cases. CETA is better than TPP (and what we know of TTIP), in that it appears the judgements will be public in some form. This could change. CETA also includes provisions about website blocking and criminal proceedings against citizens.

So clearly just a trade deal.

I like how one danish politician tries to spin CETA as “fair trade” (as opposed to fairtrade I suppose, and also a nice example of people forgetting their own history), it is just a pity that the best examples of the good it could bring involves USA and not Canada.

The EU commission tried to get the CETA ratified by simply having the EU Parlament vote on it in the chaos after Brexit, but the commission had to back down later. Still, unless someone blocks it like the belgians, it will probably be ratified by the EU countries.

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