Consumer, Safety and Public Interest Groups Decry Threats Trans-Atlantic “Trade” Deal Poses to Americans’ Daily Lives

New Report Outlines Top 10 Threats in Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement Ahead of Nov. 11 Negotiations

Nov. 7, 2013

Contact: Ben Somberg, bsomberg@citizen.org (202) 588-7742
Brian Gumm, bgumm@foreffectivegov.org (202) 683-4812

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S.-E.U. free trade agreement now under negotiation threatens a vast array of consumer and other regulatory protections, groups in the Coalition for Sensible Safeguards (CSS) warned today, ahead of a second round of negotiations on the pact set for Nov. 11-15 in Brussels. The groups issued “Top 10 Threats of the Trans-Atlantic ‘Trade’ Deal to Americans’ Daily Lives,” enumerating how the deal could weaken food and product safety standards, financial regulations, climate policies and data privacy protections. The “top 10” report is available at http://sensiblesafeguards.org/assets/documents/tafta_top_10_threats.pdf.

United States and European trade negotiators are working on the terms of the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (also known at the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), which would require government agencies on both sides of the Atlantic to “conform” a range of safeguards that protect consumers. Some products and services that do not meet U.S. health and safety standards could be allowed into U.S. markets; other provisions could require U.S. regulations to conform to new trans-Atlantic standards negotiated to be more convenient to business, instead of standards developed by state and national laws over decades. Big corporations in the United States and Europe have submitted public comments to the negotiators, asking for a range of concessions including weakened public safeguards.

Jeffery Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said: “U.S. Internet companies want the trade deal to sanction their ‘big data’ grab of our personal information. Our digital data collection industry has created an unprecedented system of 24/7 commercial surveillance of individuals (and one-stop shopping for the NSA). The privacy of Americans is at stake if the agreement sanctions the unchecked gathering of our mobile, video and computer data. The U.S. data lobby also wants the trade agreement to give them the ok to steal information from E.U. consumers as well.”

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said: “Through attacks on food inspection standards, consumer information like labeling GMOs, or the right of local governments to buy local food, TAFTA could change what Americans eat. Deals like TAFTA are not about trade, they are a permanent power grab by corporations that threaten our democracy and our health.”

Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and senior counsel at Consumer Federation of America, said: “Consumer protection strengthens trade by instilling consumer confidence and trust in the marketplace. When consumer protection is inadequate, markets fail, as the recent economic crisis has so vividly demonstrated. This deal and other trade pacts need to advance consumer well-being and not threaten it.”

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The Coalition for Sensible Safeguards is an alliance of consumer, labor, scientific, research, good government, faith, community, health, environmental, and public interest groups, as well as concerned individuals, joined in the belief that our country’s system of regulatory safeguards provides a stable framework that secures our quality of life and paves the way for a sound economy that benefits us all. For more information about the coalition, go to www.sensiblesafeguards.org.