TTIP: International trade and the NHS

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is both an opportunity and a threat to Britain.

I support efforts to increase trade between Britain (and the rest of the European Union) and the United States. Just as we benefit from increased trade with other countries in Europe because there are no levies imposed on goods imported to and exported from Britain, so we would benefit from increased trade with the US. Quite simply, companies like Oxford Instruments in Frilford will be able to sell their goods more cheaply in the US than they can now, making them more competitive, while we will be able to buy American consumer goods at lower prices without needing to travel there.

However, I will only support the agreement if it does indeed benefit employees and consumers in our country. The agreement provides the opportunity to enforce safety, environmental, labour and consumer standards.

With this particular free trade agreement, there are concerns that it could lead to the commercialisation and disintegration of public services like the NHS. I am not an expert on the agreement, but I am clear that, if there is any doubt as to whether or not TTIP could have a negative effect on the NHS, we must prioritise protecting our health service and exempt it from the agreement. Other countries are adding this exemption so I cannot see any reason for the UK not to do the same. I will not support TTIP until the NHS and other public services are exempt.

The Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) is a means of resolving disputes between countries and companies using an international court, which may be necessary where the country involved has a history of corruption in domestic courts. Because this does not apply to any of the countries involved in TTIP, it must be removed from the agreement. It also gives greater rights to foreign companies than domestic ones to sue our government, which is clearly wrong, and it could stop us reversing the privatisation of the NHS. I am pleased that the EU has suspended the inclusion of the ISDS in TTIP and believe it should be removed.

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