World Economy

TTIP Shakier Than Before

TTIP Shakier Than BeforeTTIP Shakier Than Before

The future of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership–a huge US-European Union free-trade deal–looks shakier by the day. Talks began three years ago, with high hopes for a relatively straightforward negotiation that would create an “economic Nato” to strengthen the bond between America and the EU. But talks have dragged on and the public mood has turned against TTIP.

Last month in Hanover, President Barack Obama joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel in urging the completion of TTIP talks this year, while also freely conceding that no such thing was remotely likely, given the political climate and forthcoming elections in both the US and key European countries (including Germany and France). Then this month TTIP was hit by a double whammy, adding to the sense that this deal may well never happen, MoneyWeek reported.

First, a trove of documents on the talks–leaked to Greenpeace–seemed to confirm the fears of TTIP’s European opponents, who say the deal would put European standards on issues such as environmental protection and consumer rights at risk.

Second, just as the latest round of talks was due to start, France’s President Francois Hollande abruptly announced he would reject TTIP “at this stage” because France was opposed to unregulated free trade, and he would never accept “the undermining of the essential principles of our agriculture, our culture, or mutual access to public markets”.

 A ‘Bad Deal’

France’s lead negotiator, Matthias Fekl, said the current draft was a “bad deal… Europe is offering a lot and we are getting very little in return”.

The deal would cover a vast range of trade and investment in goods and services between the world’s biggest national economy and the world’s largest single market, making it the biggest bilateral trade deal ever, covering countries that between them generate 45% of global GDP.

The UK government claims that Britain’s GDP would get an annual 0.35% lift by 2027 as a direct result of TTIP. That’s around £10 billion (14.36 billion). The figure for the EU as a whole has been put at £100 billion.

However, such claims should be treated with caution.

Meanwhile, opponents are particularly rattled by the use of special tribunals to resolve disputes between investors and governments, even though these are now standard in free-trade deals, including those forged by the EU.

To TTIP’s opponents, these tribunals–and the conditions of strict secrecy in which the talks are being conducted–confirm the fear that TTIP is a plot by the forces of global capitalism to hand power to mega-corporations at the expense of governments, consumers and voters.


Presidents Francois Hollande (L) and Barack Obama at the TTIP meet in Hanover, Germany.