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Donald Trump repeatedly proclaims that the United States has been treated unfairly in trade deals. He assures his electoral base that his aggressive trade policy is about trying to ‘make trade fairer’ for those living in the USA. But as organisations which have worked for many years for a trade system which works for people rather than big business interests, we refute Trump’s statements.

Far from standing up for ordinary people, Trump is using trade policy to bully countries around the world into giving a better deal for American big business. The result will be even worse trade deals that will accelerate inequality, climate change and even conflict.

We oppose monster trade deals like the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) which benefit big business at the expense of people and the planet. These deals have been created and supported over three decades by US administrations and by the very businesses which now stand behind Trump.

In rejecting these deals in favour of one-on-one negotiations on his terms, Trump has no intention of putting in place fairer rules which respect human rights and environmental limits. Far from it. He feels these rules constrain his ability to bully the rest of the world. He wants to rip up the multilateral system so that he can push other countries into trade relationships that would be bad for workers and consumers, for fighting inequality and for the environment.

As trade justice campaigners, we are not necessarily against the use of tariffs to promote social justice, especially on the part of developing countries – tariffs are a tool that can be used wisely or shortsightedly. But Trump is using tariff hikes to bully other countries into accepting his ‘Big Business First’ agenda. The EU has fallen for Trump’s threats, declaring that they have averted a trade war when all they have done is give in to Trump’s demands. They have already given in to terms which could damage our ability to fight climate change by agreeing to increase imports of fracked gas and GMO monocrops. This is clearly rejected by farmers and consumers in Europe and goes against the promise by the European Commission not to conclude trade deals that undermine the Paris Climate Goals.

More threats will follow until Trump has got what he wants:  TTIP-through-the-backdoor. After all, Trump has repeatedly proved himself to be untrustworthy, and is already expanding what was apparently agreed with Junker to include agriculture – where Trump’s team want to get rid of strong food safety standards such as bans on chlorine-washed chicken and hormones in beef. .

TTIP was clearly rejected by the people of Europe because it would have undermined our food standards, our public services, our ability to protect the environment, the ability to regulate pharmaceutical corporations or the big tech industry. Yet Trump and those close to him have made very clear that that is the very agenda they want to incorporate into their trade strategy.  How can this possibly end well?

The European Commission has no mandate for this agenda and President Junker has no authority to negotiate trade terms with Trump. We demand the Commission draws up an open and transparent mandate for discussion among Europe’s governments and people before committing to any new trade terms with the US. We also demand that the EU, which speaks regularly and forcefully about the importance of multilateral trade rules, does not agree any changes with Trump for WTO rules outside of a democratic and transparent process involving all of the countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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