Agreement between EU and Singapore, toxic treaty already in force

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On 11/21/19, the agreement between the EU and Singapore came into force under the silence of the mainstream media. Yet another toxic treaty of the Juncker era that is coupled, as usual, with a second ‘investment protection‘ agreement. Brief notes and reflections to follow.

Singapore, the golden island

Singapore is a small island (725 km2, less than 1/3 of Sardinia), south of the Malay Peninsula. Above all, it is the first hub of Islamic finance. A golden island, ranked seventh globally in nominal GDP per capita (US$65,627, compared to Hong Kong’s US$49,334, ranked 11th. International Monetary Fund, 2019 estimates).

In Southeast Asia, Singapore is by far the European Union’s largest trading partner. It indeed expresses nearly one-third of trade in goods and services between the EU and theAssociation of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and about two-thirds of investment between the two regions. In addition to the more than € 53 billion trade in goods between the EU and Singapore, there is € 51 billion trade in services.

The Golden Island even tops the list of European investments in Asia, with €344 billion in bilateral investments in 2017. Among other things, more than 10,000 European companies have established their own regional offices in Singapore, often used as garrisons to serve the entire Pacific region.

Singapore – EU, the agreement under the radar

The European Parliament had already voted in favor of the two agreements with Singapore on 13.2.19. The member states then proceeded to approval on 8.11.19. This entails:

within five years after the trade agreement comes into force, the abolition of all tariffs and the opening up of free trade in services (e.g., banking and insurance, technology, telecommunications),

following ratification by individual EU member states, the activation of a judicial system with independent judges to resolve investor-state disputes, under theInvestor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) scheme.

Geographical indications, what protections?

The European Commission-in its press release 8.11.19-refers to the ‘protection’ of 138 ‘representative EU food and drink products knownas GeographicalIndications‘ (or GIs). Omitting to report that the level of ‘protection’ is ridiculous, drastically lower than That provided for in Regulation (EU) no. 1151/12 On the protection of PDOs and PGIs. (2)

The EU-Singapore agreement lends itself to legitimizing counterfeits and artful evocations on products that may be distributed from the Golden Island to the entire Asian continent. In fact, the only restrictions provided pertain to:

‘the use of any means, in the designation or presentation of a good, which indicates or suggests that the good in question comes from a geographical area other than its true place of origin in a way that misleads the public as to the geographical origin of the good; and

– any other use that constitutes an act of unfair competition within the meaning of Article 10bis (unfair competition) of the Paris Convention’. (3)

Even, the very mild ‘protections’ mentioned above are lost if ‘the right holder fails to:

(a) renew the registration of the geographical indication in that party’s market; or

(b) maintain a commercial activity or minimal interest in the geographical indication in that party’s market, including marketing, promotion or market monitoring’. (4)

Environmental dumping

An economic treaty with a country that boasts US$103,717 in GDP per capita in purchasing power parity, 4 million residents and 5.7 million citizens might seem like a boon to those who believe the lies of European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström. (5) Which in fact pontificates about ‘fair and rules-based trade. The agreement will benefit workers, farmers and businesses of all sizes‘.

Commissioner Malström-always at the behest of the financial plutocracy-also refers to ‘strict clauses to protect human and labor rights and the environment.’ False. On the contrary, the Agreement introduces a definite limitation on the adoption by the EU and its member states of environmental protection measures agreed upon in international frameworks such as theParis Agreement against climate change(!).

‘Nothing in this Agreement shall prevent a Party from adopting or maintaining measures to implement the multi lateral environmental agreements to which they are party, provided that such measures are not applied in a manner that would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between the Parties or a disguised restriction on trade.’ (6)

The environmental dumping that lies ahead is blatant and threatens to mow down entire European agri-food supply chains, with the aggravation of falling customs duties. In fact, the Golden Island is the beachhead of the macro region where land grabbing, fires, and deforestation reign supreme. To make palm oil-which is the number one cause of it planet-wide, along with GMO soy-but also other commodities.

The palmocrats , however, precisely because of the aforementioned clause, will be able to sue the EU and its member states, for example, if Europe ever decides to counter the ongoing ecological disasters in Southeast Asia. And they will do so precisely by invoking ‘unwarranted discrimination’ against tropical oil or other commodities, as Malaysia has in fact already threatened.

Unregulated trade

Unregulated trade is thus the real target of the puppets of finance pretending to represent public interests. In Brussels as well as in Strasbourg, where 73 Italian MEPs (Europalmamentarians, mostly) also sit. And even in Rome, where toxic treaties are always approved without reservation. Proof of this is the clause introducing the chapter of the agreement devoted to Trade (which dominates) and Sustainable Development, which instead succumbs.

The Parties stress that environmental and labor standards should not be used for protectionist trade purposes.’ (7)

Shame! #NotInOurName! Right now-at the centennial since the establishment of theInternational Labor Office (ILO)-we are instead affirming that workers’ and children’s rights are the absolute prerequisite for any kind of trade. It is equally shameful that the European Commission continues to stimulate trades in goods that are derived from deforestation, in defiance of commitments made in Paris to combat climate change.

#Buycott! Disrupting demand for bloody and incendiary commodities like palm oil. If demand stops, supply changes. The law of the market seems to be the only one that applies, in the squalor of this political class. Sign and spread the petition, at https://www.egalite.org/buycott-petizione/

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) ASEAN member countries are Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

(2) The Juncker Commission has already legitimized the counterfeiting of European geographical indications, as this writer has denounced, in the treaties with Canada (CETA) and Japan (JEFTA). See previous articles https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/ceta-il-made-in-italy-tradito and https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/jefta-lettera-aperta-ai-consorzi-delle-nostre-dop-e-igp

(3) EU-Singapore Agreement, Article 10.19.1, at https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:22019A1114(01)&from=EN#page=633

(4) Idem c.s., Article 10.19.4

(5) Government Statistics Office. Statistics Singapore, 2019 estimates, at https://www.singstat.gov.sg/modules/infographics/population

(6) Agreement referred to in Note 3, Article 12.6(Multilateral Environmental Standards and Agreements).

(7) Idem c.s., Chapter XII(Trade and Sustainable Development), Article 12.1(Context and Objectives)

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.