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Trade agreement with US must be based on environmental and social aims

  • Ellen Teague

Catholic organisations are amongst those who have signed a letter to the UK Secretary of State for International Trade and the US Trade Representative urging that the proposed new Trade agreement between the UK and US must be based upon ambitious environmental and social aims.

The letter, sent on 4 May to Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP in London and The Honourable Robert Lighthizer in Washington, was signed by 69 UK and US organisations. Among them were the US-based Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach and Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. As formal negotiations begin for a trade agreement between the UK and US, the groups have laid benchmarks for it to be transparent with environmental and social safeguards.

Text of letter and signatories follow:

May 4, 2020

Dear Ms Truss and Mr Lighthizer:

Formal negotiations are beginning for a trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom. As groups from both the US and the UK, including environmental, animal welfare, health, food, farming, labour, digital, development, faith and social justice organisations, we are concerned about the risks that a deal could pose to the wellbeing of people and planet.

Any trade agreement must be based upon ambitious environmental and social aims, and must:

• Include binding climate requirements, including that the signatories adopt, maintain and implement policies to fulfil the Paris Climate Agreement, that ensure the provisions of the deal contribute to, and do not undermine, domestic policies to tackle the climate crisis, and exclude support for fossil fuels and corporate polluters

• Protect the public and the environment by requiring any imported goods and services and their providers to minimally meet the health, safety, environmental, animal welfare, food standards, production standards, land use and zoning, licensing, professional qualification, privacy, transparency and consumer access policies where the goods or services will be consumed

• Exclude terms that undermine strong, publicly provided public services, including universal access to health services, or price controls for medicines and those that strengthen pharmaceutical monopolies, such as intellectual property rights.

• Include binding labour rights subject to swift and certain enforcement, requiring each country to adopt, maintain, implement and enforce domestic laws that provide the labour rights and protections included in the International Labour Organisation's Core Conventions and Protocols.

• Include provisions to protect existing labour standards, wages and working conditions, and prevent a global race to the bottom by barring movement of production to evade labour laws and by establishing formal protections for joint activities, including collective bargaining, by workers in both countries with the same employer.

• Exclude terms that undermine the right of governments to set farm policy and support their farmers.

• Exclude terms that undermine effective financial and corporate regulation, including human rights due diligence throughout supply chains.

• Exclude terms that undermine the Sustainable Development Goals and commitments in international law.

• Exclude terms that undermine the regulation of digital technology and protect digital rights including privacy.

• Exclude any form of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) and rules that help corporations challenge proposed public interest regulations.

• Exclude terms constraining domestic procurement policies with respect to local preferences or labour, environmental, human rights, animal welfare and other requirements on goods, services and bidders.

• Include a safeguard excluding non-discriminatory domestic health, labour and other public interest policies from challenge as violating the agreement/

Lastly, to ensure that trade talks follow this positive agenda, it is essential that they are carried out transparently with democratic scrutiny, meaning opening texts and draft texts following each negotiating round must be made publicly available and the process includes ongoing opportunities for public consultation, and be subject to democratic consent.


US Organizations:

1. Citizens Trade Campaign

2. A Well-Fed World


4. Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)

5. Association of Western Pulp & Paper Workers

6. Backbone Campaign

7. Campaign for America's Future

8. Citizens Trade Campaign


10. Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

11. Communications Workers of America (CWA)

12. Communities and Postal Workers United

13. Community Services Unlimited

14. CPATH (Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health)

15. Fair World Project

16. Family Farm Defenders

17. Food & Water Action

18. Friends of the Earth US

19. Global Exchange

20. GMO Free USA

21. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

22. Institute for Policy Studies, Global Economy Project

23. International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers

24. Jobs with Justice

25. Labor Network for Sustainability

26. Living Economies Forum

27. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

28. National Family Farm Coalition

29. National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Assn

30. National LGBTQ Task Force

31. NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

32. Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

33. Pesticide Action Network North America

34. Popular Resistance

35. Pride at Work

36. Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch

37. Rachel Carson Council

38. Real Food Challenge


40. Seeding Sovereignty

41. Sierra Club

42. Social Security Works

43. The Oakland Institute

44. United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America


45. United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

46. United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE)

47. United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial

and Service Workers Union (USW)

48. Universities Allied for Essential Medicines

UK Organisations:

49. Trade Justice Movement

50. CHEM Trust

51. Compassion in World Farming

52. Equality Trust

53. Friends of the Earth

54. Global Justice Now

55. Just Treatment

56. Keep Our NHS Public


58. Pesticide Action Network UK

59. RSPB


61. Soil Association


63. SumOfUs

64. Sustain

65. Traidcraft Exchange


67. Unlock Democracy

68. War on Want

69. We Own It


Tradecraft -


Mill Hill Missionaries

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