Take action: trade justice in the UK
Following the UK vote to leave the EU, the UK has to rethink its entire trade policy. Formal negotiations on new trade arrangements cannot begin until the UK exits the EU.
But we can take action right now on the UK’s existing Bilateral Investment Treaties.
The UK has more than 100 Bilateral Investment Treaties. Like TTIP and CETA, these deals include a parallel judicial system that allows companies to sue governments at private international tribunals. Companies are challenging policies on everything from changes to environmental legislation, labour laws, decisions regarding tariffs for water and electricity to measures put in place in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
The development of the UK’s new trade policy provides a huge opportunity to ensure trade works for people and planet. Getting our approach right for existing treaties will help to shape our future trade arrangements. And we can start now by making a fundamental change to the excessive rights offered to companies in existing Bilateral Investment Treaties.
More about Bilateral Investment Treaties
Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) are treaties between two countries that deal exclusively with the protections to be offered to international investors. In effect, they mean that companies have little need to undertake risk assessments because they know that people in the country they are investing in will always pick up the tab if the company’s profits are hit by government policy changes.
The UK has BITs with more than 100 countries, more than two-thirds of them are developing countries. Because it is very unusual for developing country businesses to be able to afford to invest in rich countries, the UK knew when it signed the deals that it was exposing itself to minimal risk.
The treaties allow companies to challenge a wide range of government policy decisions, from changes to environmental legislation, labour laws, decisions regarding tariffs for water and electricity to measures put in place in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
TJM are asking MPs to call for a fundamental change to the UK's Bilateral Investment Treaties.
What you can do:
You can get individual contact details, including an email address, for your MP here. If you already know the name of your MP, you can write to them at House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.
You could also send a link to or copy of this short briefing note, which gives MPs an overview of the issues.
TJM's full report sets out the issues in depth.