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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/17/15

The Myth of Global "Free" Trade

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Plastic ham, anybody?

Make no mistake; there's plenty of opposition to TTIP in Europe, at least among the few concerned -- and horrified -- EU citizens who took the trouble of trying to cut through the secrecy.

In Germany, there have been serious demonstrations. The SPD -- part of the coalition government under chancellor Merkel -- is definitely against it. Italians learned TTIP would cost the country no less than 1.3 million jobs. It's useful to compare TTIP with NAFTA; in 12 years, the US actually lost 1 million jobs, as corporations and companies preferred to delocalize to Mexico, where costs are much lower.

Even Brussels was forced to admit TTIP will actually mean unemployment; a lot of jobs will definitely move Stateside, where labor standards and trade union rights are much lower.

TTIP will concern 850 million people between North America and Europe; that's roughly 45% of global GDP. Trade in question amounts as it stands to 500 billion euros a year. That could be arguably configured as "advanced globalization" -- with not so much interference from emerging markets.

Enter the European idea that as a consequence of this leading role, the EU has the most advanced rules on health, consumer protection and quality of public services (it varies a lot from country to country; can't compare France with Romania, for instance).

Thus, no wonder high-quality agricultural producers in the Club Med countries are terrified that TTIP will mean a de facto barbarian invasion. Italians are terrified about the onset of a monster, false made in Italy market, with US corporations calling any mongrel GMO concoction a "Parma" ham or a "gorgonzola" cheese.

A good test is to hit your average US supermarket. Talk about a horror show; at least 70 per cent of all processed foods are GMO-infested. The EU allows virtually no GM foods. Not to mention the toxic front; in the EU a company must prove a substance is safe before it's commercialized. In the US, anything goes.

Under TTIP, public health, education and water services in the EU will be devastated, and taken over by US corporations. Food safety laws, key legislation over the environment, and banking regulations will be turned upside down.

The spin from TTIP peddlers is that Globalization 2.0 will lead to a "surge" of 0.5% of the EU's collective GDP. That's not exactly a Chinese rate. But when you're austerity-ravaged, you drink any Kool Aid you can get. And eat it with plastic Parma ham.

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Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia. He is the former roving correspondent for Asia (more...)
 

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