Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2021

Post-Brexit trade deals: Workers' mobilisation needed to stop corporate extortion

Salford TUSC protest against TTIP, 18.4.15

Salford TUSC protest against TTIP, 18.4.15   (Click to enlarge)

Joe Fathallah, Cardiff East Socialist Party

Since the UK's departure from the European Union, the Tory government has come under pressure from its backers in big business to establish trade agreements with as many countries as possible. It wants to ensure the continuation of British capitalism's access to markets, cheap labour, and raw materials.

One of these negotiations has been with Australia, aimed at allowing UK companies to sell certain goods there without the imposition of trade tariffs, and vice versa. A deal is expected to be announced before the start of the G7 summit.

Not all British employers see this as a positive. For example, the National Farmers Union warned of the "slow, withering death of family farms", presumably in fear of being undercut by competitors who are not subject to the same regulations.

But from the point of view of the working class, the Tories are utterly incapable of negotiating any trade deals which would serve our interests in any way.

The Australia deal is set to include an Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, which is a series of secretive courts that allow businesses investing overseas to sue the government of the host country for damages if policies are enacted which attack their profit margins.

For example, in 2017, US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly won a claim against Canada for CA$500 million in response to attempts to control drug prices.

In 2018, the French company Veolia won a claim for US$268 million against the Egyptian government for increasing the minimum wage. And, shockingly, in 2012, Occidental Petroleum Corporation won $1.8 billion from the Ecuadorian state - roughly the same amount as the country's annual health budget!


There are currently 1,104 known ISDS cases, including claims against health and environmental regulations, climate change agreements, and attempts to protect indigenous land rights.

There is no equivalent of legal aid available for states attempting to defend themselves against claims, and even when they win they are often left out of pocket on legal costs. Legal fees average $8 million per case, and corporations' claims are often funded externally by financiers in return for a cut of the damages.

In 2006, the US civil engineering company Bechtel was forced to accept a token payment of $1 from the left-wing Bolivian government of Evo Morales.

Massive demonstrations had taken place in the city of Cochabamba six years previously in response to one of Bechtel's subsidiary companies implementing a huge increase in water prices. Morales stepped in and ripped up the firm's contract.

Feeling the hot breath of the Bolivian working class down their necks, the ISDS negotiated the nominal settlement.

This shows that to defeat this system of legalised extortion, mass mobilisations of workers, especially in the trade unions, indigenous populations, and others threatened by the claims, are what is needed.

A socialist government would undoubtedly be faced with huge legal claims in response to nationalising the key sectors of the economy under democratic workers' control, with compensation only based on proven need.

It would then be necessary to refuse to pay the claims, and instead mobilise domestic and international workers' solidarity against the ISDS.

The TTIP deal between the EU and the USA, which was due to include a ISDS provision, was put on the back burner in 2017 in response to huge protests and uprisings on both sides of the Atlantic.

Of course, nothing of the sort has been forthcoming from Keir Starmer's supposedly 'opposition' Labour Party.

In fact, it has been almost completely silent on the issue, because it is just as much in the camp of big business as the Tories are.

We now need to build a new opposition party, one that fights for the interests of ordinary working-class people against multinational corporations and their insatiable drive for profits.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • We must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 9 June 2021:


G7 tax deal won't challenge corporate power

Dea-John Reid murder: Jobs, homes and services, not racism

Tory school catch-up plan: Fight for the funding our schools and colleges need

Post-Brexit trade deals: Workers' mobilisation needed to stop corporate extortion

G7 green hypocrisy

New book - coming soon: The Struggle for World Socialism

G7 Can't solve poverty, Covid and climate change - join the struggle for Socialism

What we think

Tory splits and infighting growing


'Let's fight to win on NHS pay and funding'

We're building for 3 July NHS protests

Workplace news

Goodlord striker speaks out: How we unionised and fought the bosses

Revolt against 'social partnership' at Wales Trades Union Congress 2021

Douwe Egberts workers strike against pay cuts of up to 12,000 a year

London workers prepare to fight Khan's transport cuts

If unions give a lead, workers are fully prepared to fight and win victories

Fight for a socialist leadership in PCS, build a fighting, democratic union!

Workplace news in brief

Lessons from history

The 1971 Upper Clyde Shipbuilders occupation and work-in

Campaigns news

Cladding safety: Protests demand developers and government pay

"Rights are won not given" - London refugee wins housing debt campaign

Hundreds march to scrap Silvertown Tunnel project

Shame on Clarion - another exploitative landlord


Palestinian self-determination - is the solution one state or two?

Readers' opinion

TV review: Mrs Thatcher vs the miners

Readers' Opinion


Home   |   The Socialist 9 June 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleWest London Socialist Party: Northern Ireland and Brexit

triangleNorthern Ireland and Brexit

triangleLeeds Socialist Party: Brexit so far and in the next period

triangleNews in Brief

triangle2020 - a year which drove home the catastrophic failures of capitalism


triangleSomers 'slaughterhouse' Forge

triangleTrade unionists in the USA fighting back

triangleWakefield TUSC - Fighting for low-paid workers and NHS

triangleTrade unions and the fight against council cuts


triangleBritain's waterways choked with a 'chemical cocktail'

triangleEducation: Workload and inflation goes up, incomes fall

triangle10,000 tube workers vote to strike - don't make workers pay for TfL funding crisis


triangleUS: Independent Socialist Group launches new paper

triangleWhy are things the way they are?


triangleThe Socialist Inbox

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


Waltham Forest

Eviction resistance on the march in Waltham Forest


Trade unions

Trade unions and the fight against council cuts



Barts NHS workers strike back


Higher Education

Universities: Strike action at 68 in two disputes


East London

Oaks Park School: valiant strike exposed state of schools



War in Yemen, made in Harlow, profit for rich



Somers 'slaughterhouse' Forge



UK Covid-19 mortality similar to Spanish Flu



It's my party, and I'll lie if I want to



Hundreds protest to save St Mary's Leisure Centre in Southampton



Wakefield TUSC - Fighting for low-paid workers and NHS



This is students' chance to fight back - help build 2 March NUS walkout


The Socialist

Selling the Socialist



Education: Workload and inflation goes up, incomes fall



Britain's waterways choked with a 'chemical cocktail'

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 077 7221 5281

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 078 0983 9793



Alphabetical listing

January 2022