Exposed: U.S.-EU trade talks and corporate Global Services Summit reveal corporate capture of trade policy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday in the Washington, D.C., suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland, the United States and the European Union opened a week-long negotiating round for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a sweeping trade deal intended to roll back sensible environmental and other safeguards on both sides of the Atlantic. The TTIP round coincides with a corporate confab today, and illustrates the political “revolving door” between top U.S. trade officials and corporate lobbyists.
What: Today, September 30, the Coalition of Services Industries, a trade association representing Wall Street and other service industry players, hosts U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and trade officials from around the world for a Global Services Summit at Washington’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. Peter Allgeier, CSI’s president and a former top U.S. trade official, is interviewing Ambassador Froman at 9:45 a.m. for what is billed as “A Conversation with the U.S. Trade Representative.”
Why: Allgeier and the members of CSI are strong supporters of Ambassador Froman’s push for the Trans Atlantic and Trans Pacific trade deals, as well as a global Trade in Services Agreement and Fast Track trade legislation. Fast Track would allow the Administration to push these agreements through Congress on an expedited schedule, with little debate, no amendments, and a quick up or down vote.
Who: Peter Allgeier was formerly a Deputy and Acting U.S. Trade Representative, and is now the president of the Coalition of Services Industries, a powerful trade policy lobbying group representing Wall Street and many service industry firms with atrocious environmental records. Allgeier is also a former president of C&M International, where he is alleged to have represented big tobacco companies in their global fight against smoking regulations. Philip Morris, for example, is using international investment treaties to sue Uruguay and Australia for regulating cigarette packaging as part of their anti-smoking campaigns.
Ambassador Michael Froman is the current U.S. Trade Representative and a former Citigroup executive and bundler of Wall Street and other contributions to the 2008 Obama presidential campaign. His continued sympathy for the interests of Wall Street is suggested by a Wikileaks release, in July, of secret negotiating text on financial services in the Trade in Service Agreement. The leaked draft of the TiSA financial services provisions foreshadow provisions to undercut financial regulations within TTIP; the provisions would constrain safeguards of the kind that were put in place after the 2007 financial crisis, resulting from the reckless speculation of Citi and other financial services giants.
Quote: Michelle Chan, Director of Economic policy at Friends of the Earth U.S., spoke on the significance of the TTIP talks in the context of the Global Services Summit:
The U.S.-EU trade talks this week are structured to benefit corporate insiders — like Wall Street banks, big oil companies, tar sands pipeline companies, fossil fuel exporters and other service industry polluters — at the expense of sound environmental and climate policy. Ambassador Froman’s appearance at the Global Services Summit with Peter Allgeier, a former top U.S. trade official and now a spokesman for the services industry, illustrates the revolving door relationship between USTR and corporate power brokers. Fast Track is a danger because it would delegate the constitutional authority of Congress to make trade policy to a U.S. Trade Representative who, by background and mindset, responds to financiers and corporate chieftains rather than ordinary people.
For more information: Contact Bill Waren, Senior trade analyst at Friends of the Earth U.S. at (202) 222-0746 or [email protected].