General Election 2017: What is TJM calling for?

Posted on May 02, 2017

International trade will be one of the defining issues of the next Parliament and the UK’s future. As the UK leaves the EU, new international trade agreements pursued by the UK will have a huge impact – for good or ill – on public life at home in the UK and abroad in its trading partners.

Ahead of the upcoming General Election, the Trade Justice Movement affirms that all political parties should:

1. Commit the UK to pursuing a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU that entrenches existing legal protections for human rights, labour rights and the environment;

2. Adopt a ‘do no harm’ and ‘do good’ approach to international trade outside of the EU by pursuing trade agreements that (a) are consistent with existing national and international human rights, labour rights, environmental and social standards, and (b) promote improved human rights, labour rights, environmental and social standards internationally;    

3. Use trade as a tool to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by (a) unilaterally expanding market access for economically vulnerable countries (b) supporting national industrial strategies and regional integration in the Global South (c) adopting trade policies that incentivize sustainable and fair production practices and deter unsustainable production practices and (d) placing women’s rights and gender equality at the centre of UK trade policy;

4. Reject a trade strategy that pursues a race to the bottom on tax and regulation at home in order to gain a competitive advantage internationally;

5. Align the UK’s international trade policies with a domestic industrial strategy that facilitates the development of well-paying, unionised, clean and sustainable jobs and industries in the UK;  

6. Align the UK’s international trade policies with the goal of the Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts towards 1.5 degrees, using trade as a tool to support other countries to meet their national emissions goals, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and make an equitable transition to renewable energy;

7. Increase the transparency and democratic accountability according to which the government negotiates new trade agreements, by (a) increasing the powers of Parliament to set the parameters of, scrutinise, propose amendments to and reject new agreements, (b) requiring the government to periodically publish consolidated draft texts throughout trade negotiation processes, (c) limiting the time that trade provisions in an agreement remain binding on the UK after withdrawal from that agreement and (d) establishing a mandatory process for engaging civil society when setting objectives for each trade negotiation, including a full public comment process; 

8. Stop the practice of international investors suing governments in private courts, by removing Investor-State Dispute Settlement and similar mechanisms from the UK’s current and future trade and investment agreements.