Reflecting on NAFTA to Better Understand TTIP

The Berlin Forum on Global Politics (BFoGP) is excited to announce the launch of a collaborative photography project entitled “Reflecting on NAFTA to better understand TTIP”.

Jonathan Florez, citizen journalist and photographer, captures in this project the reflections of some of the people who attended a lecture and discussion on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) held by México Via Berlin on 2nd May, 2015. BFoGP co-founders Daniel Cardoso, Marc Venhaus and Miguelángel Verde Garrido were invited to discuss the implications of TTIP, while Prof. Nayar López Castellanos (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) was invited to analyze NAFTA and its consequences for Mexico.

The collaborative photography project is another contribution that gives voice to those individual citizens who are frequently excluded from the public debate on free trade agreements. The photographs of those that attended the event feature statements that represent their own takes on either NAFTA or TTIP or both of them. Each photograph is accompanied by a brief explanation from the attendee on their statement as well as by two recommended readings, which the BFoGP offers to those of you who are interested in further exploring the topics that the attendees are most concerned about.


REFLECTING ON NAFTA TO BETTER UNDERSTAND TTIP

Leo: “Who really profits from the TTIP?”

Who really benefits from the TTIP?

Does the TTIP take the people’s interest into account or do only certain industries benefit from it? TTIP means less power for consumers and more for enterprises.

For more, please read:

Joseph Stiglitz (2013): The Free-Trade Charade 

Katharina Knoll, Michaela Zinke and Jutta Jaksche (Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv). (2014): Safeguarding Consumer Rights and Protection in the TAFTA | TTIP

Arturo: “Who decides? … end of a democracy … that never reigned”

Who decides? ... end of a democracy ... that never reigned

#TTIP is not an exception, but an example, of how people and their elected representatives are powerless when it comes to defining the terms of free trade agreements – especially compared to lobbying groups.

For more, please read:

The Greens | European Free Alliance (European Parliament) (2014): Lobbyland: Corporate-capture of TTIP talks revealed

Molly Scott Cato (2015): I’ve seen the secrets of TTIP, and it is built for corporations not citizens

Iliusi: “Disintegration of the social fabric | Meaningless jobs”

Disintegration of the social fabric | Meaningless jobs

After #NAFTA, in the name of economic competitiveness, Mexico’s education focused on producing cheap labor. Working conditions became more precarious and had a negative impact on the country’s social structures, making it more difficult to find jobs that allow people to have a dignified life. How can #TTIP bring about different outcomes?

For more, please read:

Matthew Iglesias (2015): Brad DeLong explains what getting NAFTA wrong taught him about TPP

Eduardo Zepeda, Timothy Wise, and Kevin Gallagher (2009): Rethinking Trade Policy for Development: Lessons From Mexico Under NAFTA

Anastas: “Dystopian future”

Dystopian future

#TTIP is intended to be one of a number of instruments helping global financial and economic elites re-shape political systems and transnational regulation according to their needs, promoting the idea that corporate profit is more important than human life and the environment, and facilitating processes of devastation of many for the benefit of the few. We must act now.

For more, please read:

John Hilary (2014): The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: A Charter for Deregulation, an Attack on Jobs, and End to Democracy

Corporate Europe Observatory. (2013). A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership: The Proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partners (TTIP/TAFTA), and Its Socio-Economic & Environmental Consequences

Sabina: “#TTIP negotiations show the lack of transparency in European ‘democracies'”

TTIP negotiations show the lack of transparency in European

European societies urge an open discussion about #TTIP, since negotiations are taking place behind their backs and with corporations having the last word, signs of the crisis of European representative democracy.

For more, please read:

Colin Crouch (2014): Democracy at a TTIP’ing point: Seizing a slim chance to reassert democratic sovereignty in Europe

Miguelángel Verde (2014): 3 questions to Miguelángel Verde

Daniel: “No ISDS”

No ISDS

I say ‘no’ to the investor-state dispute settlement (#ISDS) because this one-sided mechanism grants corporations judicial privileges to sue governments over the reduction of their future expected profits due to regulatory changes. This can happen even if those changes had been put in place to protect and improve health or environmental conditions.

For more, please read:

Ciaran Cross (2013): The Treatment of Non-Investment Interests in Investor-State Disputes: Challenges for TAFTA | TTIP Negotiations

The Economist (2014): The Arbitration Game

Marlene: “Injusticia | Despojo | Deshumanización”

Injusticia. Despojo. Deshumanización(The statement can be translated into English as: “Injustice | Dispossession | Dehumanization”)

#TTIP anula la posibilidad de establecer modos de producción y alimentación alternativos, necesarios para comenzar a reparar injusticias sociales y nuestra relación con recursos naturales. Debemos exigir transparencia y políticas democráticas para detener los procesos de deshumanización que otros tratados ya ha empezado.

(The brief explanation of the statement can be translated into English as: “#TTIP rejects the possibility of establishing alternative modes of production and food consumption, needed to start repairing social injustices and our relationship with natural resources. We have to demand transparency and democratic policies to stop the dehumanizing processes that other treaties have already started”)

For more, please read:

The Guardian (2015): EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal

Glyn Moody (2015): TTIP explained: The secretive US-EU treaty that undermines democracy

Carlos: “Desigualdad | Libre comercio”

Desigualdad | Libre Comercio(The statement can be translated into English as: “Inequality | Free trade”)

The asymmetric conditions underlying inequality and free trade are part of the same system. Europe, don’t follow the Mexican experience! NAFTA brought inequality, poverty, and misery to México. #StopTTIP

For more, please read:

Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch (2015): NAFTA’s Legacy for Mexico: Economic Displacement, Lower Wages for Most, Increased Immigration

Marc Venhaus (2015): An unequal treaty: TTIP and inequality in Europe

M.: “Rise of corporate political power”

Rise of corporate political power

#TTIP bypasses parliamentary bodies and national consultations while it encourages corporations to secretly weigh in on its content. Corporations are granted more political power than citizens and representatives, distorting our democracies further into corporatocracies.

For more, please read:

Timothy B. Lee (2013): Here’s why Obama trade negotiators push the interest of Hollywood and drug companies

Glyn Moody (2015): Troubled TTIP isn’t the only ‘trade’ takeover busting our sovereignty


The BFoGP is committed to open knowledge, contributing to the debate on subjects related to global politics with Creative Commons-licensed materials. For this reason, the entire project as well as individual photographs can be freely shared by everybody, everywhere, under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. When sharing them with your network, you can attribute the photographs and/or their adaptations as follows:

(Photo credit: Berlin Forum on Global Politics & Jonathan Florez | BFoGP)

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