Before You Light Up! [That International Trade Agreement]

Before You Light Up! [That International Trade Agreement]

One of the consequences of being inquisitive and skeptical is that you get labelled a conspiracy theorist right away. When you challenge the "official narrative", as I did before the 2003 Iraq War and before the Mortgage Crisis of 2008, you get ridiculed, dismissed and even harassed. The line between actual conspiracies and conspiracy theories is a blurry one, because both are inherently shrouded in secrecy. Yes, there are many ridiculous conspiracy theories out there perpetuated by conspiracy theorists who are out for fame and respect, but the conspiracy theorist label is also used by government and business interests to cover up their actions and to marginalize criticism and dissent. Let's not forget, Galileo was a conspiracy theorist in the eyes of the Church.

During my drive earlier today, BBC Radio was running a story on the "secret" Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement which is being negotiated between the European Union and the United States. From the get-go, one of the guests defending the secret negotiations preemptively dismissed all criticism as conspiracy theories. Another guest defended the secrecy as being necessary for leverage in negotiations. There are many TTIP criticisms on the Internet, so I'm not going to get into all of it. One concern worth taking a closer look at is the threat posed by such trade agreements to national sovereignty.

In 2010, the multinational tobacco giant Philip Morris International sued the country of Uruguay claiming "Uruguay's anti-smoking legislation devalues its cigarette trademarks and investments in the country". Yes, you read correctly. The bilateral investment treaty signed between Uruguay and Switzerland - where Philip Morris is headquartered - included terms known as Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). In other words, multinational corporations who invest in countries have to be guaranteed that they will continue to make money, irrespective of future sovereign laws adapted by that country. Now, you tell me, is that a conspiracy, or a conspiracy theory?

Someone suggested that the leaders of that country didn't have to sign ISDS terms. I wish it was that simple. First, desperate nations are often forced to sign such agreements. Secondly, many "corrupt" past leaders of numerous nations - most likely including yours - already signed similar agreements. Good luck getting out of them... Cheers!

In addition to the TTIP, on the Pacific side of the globe, a comparable "free trade" agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is in the works, raising similar questions. Remember NAFTA?
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