Council stands against trade deal

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The Ferry Ward councillor has welcomed a decision by Dundee City Council to oppose a controversial international trade deal.

Councillor Kevin Cordell was at a recent meeting of the city council’s Policy and Resources Committee which went on to vote 25-2 in favour of making Dundee a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free zone, the sixth Scottish Local Authority to make that decision.

During the course of the meeting a deputation was heard from ‘Stop TTIP Dundee’ who voiced their fears about the deal’s potential impact on public services, environmental regulations and workers’ rights.

Councillor Cordell said: “TTIP has been on the horizon for some time but it is only now that the public are seeing the full impact of what TTIP proposes.

“Governments - and in turn local authorities - across the EU have been kept in the dark with nearly all information on negotiations coming from leaked documents and Freedom of Information requests.

“This obviously causes a great deal of concern and is simply unacceptable.”

Supporters of TTIP suggest it could stimulate the UK economy by around £10 billion per year by increasing choice, making goods cheaper and helping small businesses to access new markets by smoothing out customs regulations.

However, according to Councillor Cordell the impact on his constituents would be huge.

He said: “There are concerns TTIP could lead to the privatisation of the NHS because the deal includes “market access” which bans state monopolies, including public services run by the state.

“It could also allow big companies to take legal action against governments for blocking their business interests.

“Even our ability to decide on who provides goods and services, such as, the awarding of school bus contracts – that would be at risk.”

Ferry Ward concerned constituent Hamish Milne, director of Bulkbag Containers Ltd added: “We are very concerned from the snippets of information that have come out about TTIP. Not just on the potential effect on publicly owned public services but for the potential effect on UK manufacturers. We are one of the last remaining UK manufacturers in the bulk bag industry and are already at a competitive disadvantage from Chinese and Indian imports, resulting from their cheap labour costs, poorer employment terms conditions and their government subsidised industrial output. As I understand part of the TTIP deal is to extend the single market which will remove import duties, making their products even cheaper UK.”