TTIP Exposed: The Deregulatory desires of Big Alcohol on both sides of the Atlantic
Robert S. Pezzolesi, Diane Riibe, Emma Woodford and Donald Zeigler have written an analysis of how the alcohol industry uses TTIP negotiations to undermine progressive and evidence-based alcohol policies in both the United States and the European Union and to protect their profits in the years to come.
“The Deregulatory Desires of the Alcohol Industry: A Hidden Health Threat in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)”
The influence of the alcohol industry in the TTIP negotiations is barely hidden. At the 9th TTIP negotiation rounds in New York, the National Association of Beverage Importers called for the elimination of the US Three Tier System which they consider to be a barrier to trade.
This would, they claim, give European traders direct access to American customers and increase wine imports for direct-to-consumer sales in the US by $2.5 billion. Even if this estimate were correct, the combined effect of the local wine market being flooded and disbanding the wholesalers would mean that prices of wine in the US would plummet and this relatively weak public health control system would be lost.
It is precisely the ambiguity in the TTIP proposals and WTO regulations that make trade agreements so threatening to public health.
Price controls over alcohol are not simply a way for governments to make more money from taxation, they also help to reduce the availability of cheap alcohol, and – as a robust body of research has demonstrated – the number of cases of liver disease, cancers, automobile crashes, and hospital emergency admissions. They help to reduce cases of alcohol-driven domestic violence, addiction and other societal problems. In short, they help to keep us healthy and reduce pressure on and costs of health care services. They should not be seen as technical barriers to trade.
Perhaps more dangerous in the TTIP is the proposed investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision whereby an investor would have the right to take proceedings against a foreign government’s public policies without making any distinction between socially beneficial or harmful investments. Since any domestic regulation may have an economic impact on some private interests, ISDS is a formula to limit the authority of government and cripple the regulatory state.”
The authors conclude, among other points, that trade agreements like the TTIP are set to increase pressure from industries like Big Alcohol, on public policy-making intended to protect health and wellbeing of the population.