David Martin MEP

Labour Member of the European Parliament and one of the six MEPs representing Scotland in Brussels and Strasbourg

Trade deal must be right for Scotland

Scottish Daily Record

THE livelihoods of more than 1.6million Scots workers depend on our companies being able to sell their products across the world. From whisky and heavy engineering to financial services, textiles and food products, Scottish firms produce world-leading products.

But all too often our firms can't compete because they are forced to cough up thousands of pounds paying unfair tariffs just to be allowed to sell to customers in another country or complying with red tape.

A brake light which has been tested to the highest standard in the UK can't be sold in America without going through similar but expensive and lengthy testing processes first.

A mattress which has passed the strictest fire resistant tests here can't be sold outside Europe without going through what can be years of checks. For our smaller companies, it's simply not worth the hassle.

European safety standards are the highest in the world so it's common sense for the rest of the world to pass our goods and services as safe.

It is good news for us that the European Union have concluded trade deals with Canada, Singapore and Korea and that they are negotiating with Japan, Vietnam and Mexico among many others. But one trade deal in particular has caught the imagination and that is the so called TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) with the USA. This would be the world's biggest ever trade deal and cover almost half the world's income, 800million consumers and a third of global trade. Its very scale frightens and inspires in equal measure.

TTIP is years away from conclusion but next week the European Parliament will adopt a report telling the European Commission what they expect to come out of the negotiations.Labour MEPs will make it clear that although the deal could lead to a boom in business and jobs for Scotland, we won't back it at any price.

We won't allow anything in the deal which undermines our NHS. We will demand protection for workers rights and the environment.

The deal also needs to force the US to sign up to international Labour standards such as the right to strike and the right to join a trade union.

On food, while we want to remove obstacles to the export of quality European products to the US, the quid pro quo cannot be allowing hormone treated beef or chlorinated chickens on to our market.

The most controversial aspect of this deal is giving companies the right to sue governments in private courts if they think they have been badly treated.

This already exists in many trade agreements.

The most notorious case is tobacco giant Philip Morris's bid to sue the Australian government for introducing plain packaging for cigarettes.

Labour MEPs will not support this part of the deal under any circumstances. A lot of negotiation will take place before this agreement is finalized.Then the European Parliament will have the right to say yes or no TTIP.

I'm clear that while Scots stand to reap massive benefits from the business and jobs bonanza, this is not something I will be signing up to until I can assure my constituents that the deal will also protect the NHS, consumers and the environment.

David Martin is Scotland's longest serving elected Parliamentarian having been elected to the European Parliament in 1984. He is the UK's longest serving MEP and spokesman for the Socialist and Democrats Group in the EP on trade. 

Trinity Mirror Group PLC


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