Will the signing of the treaty on 26 March 2014 be irreversible? Does the EU parliament have veto power over this trade agreement? Read: EU member states may not have a veto on TTIP / TAFTA. Why the haste, the EU parliamentary elections are scheduled for May 25th, and a major shift in voting is expected. EU Commision president Barroso will end his two-term rule. EU veteran Juncker enters race to become Commission president.
- Dutch quality newspaper NRC made a correction: “In an earlier version of this article, we erroneously reported that the U.S. and EU trade agreement would be signed. It is, however, a draft chapter on tariffs only.”
The TTIP will be crucial to the future of world trade not just because of its members’ importance in global trade. In a context where multilateral negotiations have made little progress over the last decade, the disciplines agreed in the TTIP will play a key role in defining a new regulatory order for world trade.
Like most recent regional agreements, the TTIP negotiations go far beyond liberalizing trade in goods to include numerous “new generation” issues, many of which are not discussed (or are only partially negotiated) in the arena of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
As stipulated by the US and EU High Level Group on Employment and Growth (2013), the TTIP has to meet ambitious goals in three areas:
- Market access: elimination of barriers to trade in goods and services, and opening in investment and government procurement.
- Regulatory Issues and non-tariff barriers (including sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade): provisions to reduce administrative costs and unnecessary delays, and to avoid the emergence of new restrictions of this kind.
- Rules, principles, and new forms of cooperation: provisions on trade related intellectual property rights, labor and environmental standards, restrictions on exports of raw materials, competition policy, aid to state owned enterprises, trade facilitation, transparency, etc.
According to the calculations of François et al. (2013), the TTIP could stimulate an increase of 28% of EU exports to United States, and of 36.6% in US shipments to Europe, but the abolition of tariffs will represent only a small proportion of the expected gains for the agreement, as aliquots are generally low, with the exception of those applied to agricultural products.
TTIP: International Mega-corporations prevent social and ecological globalization
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In the reality of international monopolist competition, narrow economic profit interests dominate to the disadvantage of broad prosperity gains. Protection of foreign mega-investors before indirect expropriation leads to a dispossession of nation state democracy. The losers are employees, customers, the environment and the public sector.
[This article is translated from the German publication on the Internet: TTIP: Internationale Megakonzerne verhindern die soziale und ökologische Gestaltung der Globalisierung. Rudolf Hickel is an economist at the University of Bremen]
The planned “Transatlantic Trade- and Investment Partnership” between the US and the EU is intensely controversial. The abbreviation TTIP (Transatlantic Trade- and Investment Partnership) already appears on placards not only of globalization critics. Two positions face one another rather irreconcilably. The supporters of a deregulated free trade emphasize the prosperity gains for everyone through falling prices, more economic growth and new jobs. The critics of this globalization with melting labor-, consumer-, social and ecological minimum standards fear international conglomerates gaining power against the protection of consumers and employees. The advantages of a border-crossing liberalization of markets through dismantling protectionist hurdles and declining prices are seen and sketched as a model. In the reality of international monopolist competition, narrow economic profit interests dominate to the disadvantage of broad prosperity gains.
How should the transatlantic opening of markets first suspended by the EU be evaluated? Is there an alternative to this globalization pushed by the interests of international corporations to downward competitive pressure on minimum standards.
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protest against genetically modified crops last month outside Berlin's Bundestag. (Tobias Schwarz - Reuters)
Unlike the US, the EU prescribes an identification duty on packaging for food and genetically engineered plants. The approval of genetically-modified corn threatened by the EU commission with support of the German chancellor fits in this concept of transatlantic deregulation. If this concept of boundless trade should be realized, these controversies will not exist any more. According to the intended mutual acknowledgment, US corporations in the future will offer their lower standards in Europe. Lower prices with US products can be expected because of the suspended EU quality standards, a competition where more expensive protected products are pushed off into the EU is on the horizon.
The price for cheaper products is the health risks. This competing-down of product standards will not stop at industrial laws, social and ecological minimum regulations. Here is one example: products with low price prices because of right-to-work employees in the US threaten to force out German goods and services on the basis of their higher wage agreements. In some areas where regulations are stronger than in the EU, the US will come under pressure to lower standards (banking sector).
The opening of the public employment sector is part of the agenda of transatlantic liberalization. The consequences for this kind of competition are immense in the US-EU-area. The big businesses will prevail. Small and medium-sized domestic and regional businesses come under massive pressure through the monopolistic competition without borders. Where are the defenders of a de-concentrated social market economy as a model of globalization?
Trade unions and campaign groups have written to Vince Cable calling for a halt to negotiations on the EU-US trade deal, as talks begin in Brussels today.
The groups, including the UK’s second biggest trade union UNISON, environmental, social justice and anti-poverty organisations, believe the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will undermine democracy, threaten public services and lead to lower standards in a range of areas including environmental protection, workers’ rights and food safety.
The letter to the Business Secretary uses recent research to show that the trade deal is unlikely to significantly boost employment, and points to the European Commission’s own work which suggests it will cause “prolonged and substantial dislocation of EU workers as a direct result of TTIP which will simply entrench European inequality.”
Signatories to the letter claim that TTIP will essentially be an `investor protection’ treaty, giving private companies more power over public services, government procurement and a raft of social and environmental standards. This protection will be enshrined in a proposed investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) which would give corporations additional power to sue the British government. The letter calls for a halt in the TTIP negotiations.
Nick Dearden, director of the World Development Movement, said today:
- TTIP is not about creating more jobs, it’s not even about trade as most people understand it. Rather, the essence of TTIP is `investor protection’ – handing more power to big business.
- There are real fears that TTIP will bind the hands of future governments – for instance preventing a British government from extending public control over energy companies, or from undoing recent changes which have allowed for semi-privatisation of the NHS. It is, therefore, an attack on our very democracy.
British groups will join campaigners from across Europe and the United States in Brussels this week for strategic discussion on how to counter TTIP. Negotiations between US and EU trade representatives began in Brussels today (Monday 10 March) and continue for the week. This is the fourth round of negotiations, and negotiators aim to move the process forward substantially this week.
Berlin, Brussels, Washington, Ottawa – A new website was launched today dedicated to enlarging the public debate on the EU’s controversial policies for investment protections and investor-to-state dispute settlement systems (ISDS) in the EU-US and EU-Canada trade negotiations.
The site (http://eu-secretdeals.info) includes newly leaked investment chapters from the ongoing EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations, analysis of those chapters, and other information contradicting the Commission’s position that these transatlantic trade agreements must include strong investment protections.
Civil society groups from the European Union, United States and Canada have been calling for a much more transparent and democratic debate about international trade agreements. Their concerns about the far-reaching implications of international investment rules and arbitration procedures have been echoed by many parliamentarians, academics and governments in Europe and around the world. However, the Directorate-General for Trade in the European Commission (DG Trade) keeps insisting on keeping the CETA and TTIP negotiating texts secret.
Peter Fuchs, a trade activist based in Berlin, Germany said: “In the TTIP and CETA negotiations, DG Trade wants to grant foreign corporations new rights to sue governments before private trade tribunals and directly challenge public policies and even court decisions. This is outrageous, and the Commission knows that citizens and parliamentarians in the EU and in partner countries will not accept it. DG Trade’s attempt to divert public opposition to these investment rules through a three-month online consultation only will not work. Citizens have a right to influence all of the investment negotiations; not just the nascent EU-US TTIP but also the investment negotiations with Canada, Japan, China and other countries. We hope this website helps to blow open the debate, even if the Commission would prefer to contain it.”
- @BooMan searching archive, a single mention of TTIP in a post by Tarheel Dem:
“The pitch for the TPP and TTIP as creating export jobs in small businesses was totally dishonest.”