AFR and More Than 50 U.S. and International Groups Warn that TTIP Could Undermine Financial Reform

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In a letter to U.S. and EU trade negotiators and finance ministers, more than 50 civil society groups on both sides of the Atlantic have come together to warn that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently under discussion could undermine new financial regulations and potentially create significant risks to the global financial system, as well as to investors and consumers.

The letter calls on the negotiators of the TTIP to learn the lessons of the 2008 global financial crisis and rethink the ground rules of trade agreements in light of the disastrous consequences of the industry-driven financial sector deregulation of the past decades. Despite this experience, leaked documents from the confidential TTIP negotiations indicate that current TTIP drafts replicate deregulatory provisions from pre-crisis trade agreements, in some cases even adding new loopholes.

The global financial industry, backed by some European negotiators, has also pushed for the TTIP to include a new “regulatory cooperation” mechanism aimed at influencing post-crisis efforts to re-regulate finance on both sides of the Atlantic. This “regulatory cooperation” mechanism could be used to block efforts to re-regulate global finance.

“We believe it is highly inappropriate to include terms implicating financial regulation in an industry-dominated, non-transparent ‘trade’ negotiation,” the letter says. “Financial regulations do not belong in a framework that targets regulations as potential ‘barriers to trade.’”

Though U.S. negotiators have stated that they oppose the EU-proposed regulatory cooperation provisions, they have indicated willingness to expose U.S. financial protections to other deregulatory rules proposed for TTIP. For example, the controversial  “investor state dispute settlement” (ISDS) provisions which U.S. negotiators have proposed for inclusion in TTIP could give  large global banks and asset managers new ways to challenge the enforcement of national regulations. As the letter states, including ISDS in TTIP “would newly empower the world’s largest banks to launch investor-state claims against U.S. and EU financial regulations, which could chill regulators’ resolve to enact the bold financial stability measures needed to prevent another crisis and/or result in major new liabilities for government treasuries. “

The letter concludes: “As U.S. and EU regulators undertake the difficult work of re-regulating finance, TTIP cannot be allowed to undermine this historic task.”

On the U.S. side, the letter’s co-signers include the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO); American Federation of State; County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); Americans for Financial Reform; Campaign for America’s Future; Center for Digital Democracy; Center for Effective Government; Center of Concern; Center for Responsible Lending; Citizens Trade Watch; Communications Workers of America; Consumer Action; Consumers Union; Food & Water Watch; Friends of the Earth (US); Government Accountability Project; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; National Association of Consumer Advocates; New Rules for Global Finance Coalition; Public Citizen; Service Employees International Union; United for a Fair Economy; United Food & Commercial Workers International Union; and U.S. PIRG.

EU signers include Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network; AGE Platform Europe; ATTAC Hungary; Attac Iceland; Both ENDS; Campact e.V.; Centre for Global Education; Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO); CNCD-11.11.11; Collectif Roosevelt; Consumers’ Protection Center (KEPKA); Corporate Europe Observatory; Ecologistas en Acción; European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad); Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv); Finance Watch; Friends of the Earth Europe; Global Policy Forum Europe; INKOTA-netzwerk e.V.; Jubilee Debt Campaign UK; Kairos Europe WB; PowerShift e.V.; Presentation Justice Network; Slovene Consumer’s Association (ZPS); Südwind; Tax Justice Network; UNI Europa; and World Economy, Ecology & Development.