Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

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This article is about the regulation and trade agreement. For the chemical compound abbreviated as TTIP, see Titanium isopropoxide.
The European Union (green) and the United States (orange) shown on a world map.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States. Proponents say the agreement would result in multilateral economic growth,[1] while critics say it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit.[2][3] The American government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[4] After a proposed draft was leaked in March 2014,[5] the European Commission launched a public consultation on a limited set of clauses and in January 2015 published parts of an overview.[6]

If an agreement is to be made, it is not expected to be finalized before 2016.[7]

Background[edit]

Economic barriers between the EU and the United States are relatively low, not only due to long-standing membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) but also recent agreements such as the EU–US Open Skies Agreement and work by the Transatlantic Economic Council. The European Commission claims that passage of a trans-Atlantic trade pact could boost overall trade between the respective blocs by as much as 50%.[8] However, economic relations are tense and there are frequent trade disputes between the two economies, many of which end up before the World Trade Organization. Economic gains from a Trade Treaty were predicted in the joint report issued by the White House and the European Commission.[9]

Some form of Transatlantic Free Trade Area had been proposed in the 1990s and later in 2006 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in reaction to the collapse of the Doha world trade talks. However, protectionism on both sides may be a barrier to any future agreement.[10][11] It was first initiated in 1990, when, shortly after the end of the Cold War, with the world no longer divided into two blocs, the European Community (12 countries) and the US signed a "Transatlantic Declaration". This called for the continued existence of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, as well as for yearly summits, biennial meetings between ministers of State, and more frequent encounters between political figures and senior officials.

Subsequent initiatives taken by the European deciders and the US government included: in 1995, the creation of a pressure group of business people, the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) by public authorities on both sides of the Atlantic; in 1998, the creation of an advisory committee, the Transatlantic Economic Partnership; in 2007, the creation of the Transatlantic Economic Council, in which representatives from firms operating on both sides of the Atlantic meet to advise the European Commission and the US government – and finally, in 2011, the creation of a group of high-level experts whose conclusions, submitted on February 11, 2013, recommended the launching of negotiations for a wide-ranging free-trade agreement. On February 12, 2013, President Barack Obama called in his annual State of the Union address for such an agreement.[12] The following day, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced that talks would take place to negotiate the agreement.[13][14]

The United States and European Union together represent 60% of global GDP, 33% of world trade in goods and 42% of world trade in services. There are a number of trade conflicts between the two powers, but both depend on the other's economic market and disputes only affect 2% of total trade. A free trade area between the two would represent potentially the largest regional free-trade agreement in history, covering 46% of world GDP.[15][16]

Trade between the EU and the US
(in billion euros)[citation needed][when?]
Direction Goods Services Investment Total
EU to US 288 159 1655 2102
US to EU 196 146 1536 1878

US investment in the EU is three times greater than US investment in the whole of Asia and EU investment in the United States is eight times that of EU investment in India and China combined. Intra-company transfers are estimated to constitute a third of all transatlantic trade. The United States and EU are the largest trading partners of most other countries in the world and account for a third of world trade flows. Given the already low tariff barriers (under 3%), to make the deal a success the aim is to remove non-tariff barriers.[17]

Proposed contents[edit]

Documents released by the European Commission in July 2014 group the topics under discussion into three broad areas: Market access; Specific regulation; and broader rules and principles and modes of co-operation.[18][19]

The EU negotiating mandate as of June 2013 gave a fuller view of what the Council of the European Union (Foreign Affairs) has told its negotiators to try to achieve for each section.[20] No corresponding US text is available, but the American side has released a public statement setting out its objectives and the potential benefits it foresees.[21]

Market access[edit]

TTIP includes chapters on market access for goods and services, which aimed at removing "custom duties on goods and restrictions on services, gaining better access to public markets, and making it easier to invest".[22] The goods part includes rules on market access for goods, agriculture and processed agricultural products, and rules of origin.[18][19]

Services and leaked text[edit]

For "Trade in Services, Investment and E-commerce", a draft text dated 7 July 2013 was leaked by the German newspaper, Die Zeit in March 2014. The leaked text contains seven chapters. In chapter I, article 1 states the overall objective of "a better climate for the development of trade and investment", particularly the "liberalisation of investment and cooperation on e-commerce".[23]

Chapter II, articles 3 to 18 contains general principles for investment. Article 14 contains proposed rules which forbid governments to "directly or indirectly nationalise, expropriate" unless it is for a public purpose, under due process of law, on a non-discriminatory basis, with compensation.[24] Article 14(2) defines the necessary compensation as being "fair market value of the investment at the time immediately before the expropriation or the impending expropriation became public knowledge plus interest at a commercial rate established on a market basis".

Chapter III, articles 19 to 23 contains rules on cross border supply of services.

Chapter IV, Articles 24 to 28 would allow free movement of business managers, and other employees of a corporation, for temporary work purposes among all countries party to the agreement.[25] Article 1(2) makes it clear, however, that no more general free movement of workers and citizens is allowed.

Chapter V contains eight sections with particular rules for different economic sectors. Section I, articles 29 to 31, set out principles which states must follow in licensing private corporations, and state that requirements that are not proportionate to a reviewable public policy objective are contrary to the treaty. Section II contains general provisions. Section III covers computer services. Section IV, articles 35 to 39, cover liberalisation of postal services.[26] Section V, articles 40 to 50, apply to electronic communications networks and services (including telecommunications) and mandate competitive markets, absence of cross-subsidies, subject to defined exceptions including in article 46 a right (but not a requirement) for countries to provide universal service.

Section VI of chapter V covers Financial Services, in articles 51 to 59. It limits the laws that governments can pass to regulate or publicly run insurance and banking. Any regulations that do not fall within the Treaty's terms and objectives would be unlawful.[27] Legitimate reasons for regulation include, in article 52, "the protection of investors, depositors, policy-holders or persons to whom a fiduciary duty is owed by a financial service supplier; (b) ensuring the integrity and stability of a Party's financial system". However article 52(2) states "measures shall not be more burdensome than necessary to achieve their aim",[28] and the Treaty does not include any further reasons to allow regulation. Section VII covers international maritime transport and section VIII covers air transport.

The Annex on "Investors-state dispute settlement" proposed to allow corporations to bring actions against governments for breach of its rights.[29] The European Commission launched a public consultation after the draft text was leaked, which led to a number of changes. However, an updated proposed text had yet to be made publicly available.[when?]

Industry-specific regulation[edit]

"Improved regulatory coherence and cooperation by dismantling unnecessary regulatory barriers such as bureaucratic duplication of effort".[22]

Specific heads for discussion include:[18][19]

Broader rules and principles and modes of co-operation[edit]

"Improved cooperation when it comes to setting international standards".[22]

Specific heads for discussion include:[18][19]

Implementation[edit]

Negotiations[edit]

Negotiations are held in week-long cycles alternating between Brussels and Washington. The negotiators hope to conclude their work by the end of 2015. The ninth round of negotiations took place on 20–24 April 2015 in New York and the tenth is supposed to be organized in July in Brussels.

The 28 governments will then have to approve or reject the negotiated agreement in the EU Council of Ministers, at which point the European Parliament will also be asked for its endorsement. The EU Parliament is empowered to approve or reject the agreement. Individual countries have different rules on approving and ratifying the document. For example, Article 53 of the French Constitution states, "trade treaties can only be ratified by a law" passed by the French Parliament. In the United States, both houses of the Congress would have to pass the agreement.[44]

The TTIP Agreement texts are being developed by 24 joint EU-US working groups, each considering a separate aspect of the agreement. Development typically progresses through a number of phases. Broad position papers are first exchanged, introducing each side's aims and ambitions for each aspect. These are followed by textual proposals from each side, accompanied (in areas such as tariffs, and market access) by each side's "initial offer." These negotiations and draft documents can evolve (change) through the various stages of their development. When both sides are ready, a consolidated text is prepared, with remaining differences for discussion expressed in square brackets. These texts are then provisionally closed topic by topic as a working consensus is reached. However the agreement is negotiated as a whole, so no topic's text is finalised until full consensus is reached.[45]

In November 2014 Bulgarian government announced that it will not ratify the agreement unless the United States lifted visa requirements for Bulgarian citizens.[46]

Proposed benefits[edit]

TTIP aims for a formal agreement that shall "liberalise one-third of global trade", which they argue will create millions of new paid jobs.[47] "With tariffs between the United States and the EU already low, the United Kingdom's Centre for Economic Policy Research estimates that 80 percent of the potential economic gains from the TTIP agreement depend on reducing the conflicts of duplication between EU and U.S. rules on those and other regulatory issues, ranging from food safety to automobile parts."[47] A successful strategy (according to Thomas Bollyky at the Council on Foreign Relations and Anu Bradford of Columbia Law School) will focus on business sectors for which transatlantic trade laws and local regulations can often overlap, e.g., pharmaceutical, agricultural, and financial trading.[47] This will ensure that the United States and Europe remain "standard makers, rather than standard takers", in the global economy, subsequently ensuring that producers worldwide continue to gravitate toward joint U.S.-EU standards.[47]

A March 2013 economic assessment by the European Centre for Economic Policy Research estimates that such a comprehensive agreement would result in annual GDP growth of 68-119 billion euros by 2027 and annual GDP growth of 50-95 billion euros in the United States in the same time frame. The 2013 report also estimates that a limited agreement focused only on tariffs would yield annual EU GDP growth of 24 billion euros by 2027 and annual growth of 9 billion euros in the United States. If shared equally among the affected people, the most optimistic GDP growth estimates would translate into "additional annual disposable income for a family of four" of "545 euros in the EU" and "655 euros in the US", respectively.[48]

In a Wall Street Journal article, the CEO of Siemens GmbH (with its workforce located 70% in Europe and 30% in the United States) claimed that the TTIP would strengthen United States and EU global competitiveness by reducing trade barriers, by improving intellectual property protections, and by establishing new international "rules of the road".[49]

The European Commission says that the TTIP would boost the EU's economy by €120 billion, the US economy by €90 billion and the rest of the world by €100 billion.[50] Talks began in July 2013 and reached the third round of negotiations by the end of that year.[50]

In a Guardian article of 15 July 2013, Dean Baker of the United States' Center for Economic and Policy Research observed that with conventional trade barriers between the US and the EU already low, the deal would focus on non-conventional barriers such as overriding national regulations regarding fracking, GMOs and finance and tightening laws on copyright. He goes on to assert that with less ambitious projections the economic benefits per household are mediocre "If we apply the projected income gain of 0.21% to the projected median personal income in 2027, it comes to a bit more than $50 a year. That's a little less than 15 cents a day. Don't spend it all in one place".[51]

Criticism and opposition[edit]

The proposed agreement has attracted criticism from a wide variety of NGOs and activists, particularly in Europe.[52]

Possible negative impact[edit]

An October 2014 study by Jeronim Capaldo of the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University indicates that there will be losses in terms of net exports, net losses in terms of GDP, loss of labor income, job losses, reduction of the labor share, loss of government revenue and higher financial instability among European countries.[53]

Activism[edit]

Anti-TTIP graffiti in Malmö, Sweden, June 2015.

In March 2013, a coalition of digital rights organisations and other groups issued a declaration[54] in which they called on the negotiating partners to have TAFTA "debated in the US Congress, the European Parliament, national parliaments, and other transparent forums" instead of conducting "closed negotiations that give privileged access to corporate insiders", and to leave intellectual property out of the agreement. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and its German counterpart, FFII, in particular, compared TAFTA to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA),[55][56] signed by the United States, the European Union and 22 of its 27 member states.[57]

In 2014, an online consultation conducted by the European Commission[58] received 150,000 responses. According to the commission, 97% of the responses were pre-defined, negative answers provided by activists.[59][60] Additionally, hundreds of demonstrations and protests have taken place in an organised "day of action" on October 11, 2014,[61][62][63] and again on April 18, 2015.[64][65][66]

In 2015, a self-organised European Citizens' Initiative against TTIP and CETA has been established, acquiring over 2.2 million signatures as of May 2015.

National sovereignty and investor-state dispute settlements (ISDS)[edit]

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is an instrument that allows an investor to bring a case directly against the country hosting its investment, without the intervention of the government of the investor's country of origin.[67] From the late 1980s, certain trade treaties have included provisions for ISDS, which allowed foreign investors who had been disadvantaged by actions of a signatory state to sue for damages in a tribunal of arbitration. More recently such claims have increased in number and value,[68] and some states have become increasingly resistant to such clauses.[69]

In December 2013, a coalition of over 200 environmentalists, labor unions and consumer advocacy organizations on both sides of the Atlantic sent a letter to the USTR and European Commission demanding the investor-state dispute settlement be dropped from the trade talks, claiming that ISDS was "a one-way street by which corporations can challenge government policies, but neither governments nor individuals are granted any comparable rights to hold corporations accountable".[70][71] Some point out the "potential for abuse" that may be inherent in the trade agreement due to its clauses relating to investor protection.[72][73]

In December 2013, Martti Koskenniemi, Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki, warned that the planned foreign investor protection scheme within the treaty, similar to World Bank Group's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), would endanger the sovereignty of the signatory states by allowing for a small circle of legal experts sitting in a foreign court of arbitration an unprecedented power to interpret and void the signatory states' legislation.[74]

National objections[edit]

From both the European and American sides of the agreement, there are issues which are seen as essential if an accord is to be reached. According to Leif Johan Eliasson of Saarland University, "For the EU these include greater access to the American public procurement market, retained bans on imports of genetically modified organisms (GMO) crops and hormone treated beef, and recognition of geographic trademarks on food products. For the United States they include greater access for American dairy and other agricultural products (including scientific studies as the only accepted criteria for SPS policies)." He observes that measures like the EU ban on hormone treated beef (based as they are on the precautionary principle) are not considered by the WTO to be based on scientific studies.

Eliasson further states that U.S. objectives in a deal include "tariff-free motor vehicle exports," and retained bans on foreign contractors in several areas," including domestic shipping (see Merchant Marine Act of 1920).[75] Already, some U.S. producers are concerned by EU proposals to restrict use of "particular designations" (also known as PDO or GI/geographical indications) that the EU considers location-specific, such as Feta and Parmesan cheeses and possibly Budweiser beer.[76][77] This has provoked debate between European politicians such as Renate Künast and Christian Schmidt over the value of the designations.[78]

At French insistence, trade in audio-visual services was excluded from the EU negotiating mandate.[79] The European side has been pressing for the agreement to include a chapter on the regulation of financial services; but this is being resisted by the American side, which has recently passed the Dodd–Frank Act in this field.[80] U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Anthony L. Gardner has denied any linkage between the two issues.[81]

European negotiators are also pressing the United States to loosen its restrictions on the export of crude oil and natural gas, to help the EU reduce its dependence on energy from Russia. The United States has so far reserved its position.[82]

Pesticide regulation[edit]

Documents released, in May 2015, showed that the US negotiators put pressure on the EU over proposed pesticide criteria. A number of pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals were in draft EU criteria to be banned. On the 2nd May 2013, US negotiators insisted the EU drop the criteria. They stated that a risk-based approach should be taken on regulation. Later the same day Catherine Day wrote to Karl Falkenberg asking for the criteria to be removed.[83]

Response to criticism[edit]

Karel De Gucht responded to criticism in a Guardian article in December 2013,[84] saying "The commission has regularly consulted a broad range of civil society organisations in writing and in person, and our most recent meeting had 350 participants from trade unions, NGOs and business."[85] However, the Corporate Europe Observatory (cited in the original Guardian article) had pointed out, based on a Freedom of Information request, that "more than 93% of the Commission's meetings with stakeholders during the preparations of the negotiations were with big business". They characterized the industry meetings as "about the EU's preparations of the trade talks", and the civil society consultation as "an information session after the talks were launched".[86]

Effect on third-party countries[edit]

Proposed TAFTA :
United States and European Union in dark blue and the other possible members in light blue (NAFTA and EFTA)

Some proposals for a transatlantic free trade area include on the American side, the other members of North American Free Trade Area (Canada and Mexico) and on the European side, the members of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). Mexico already has a free trade agreement with EFTA and the EU while Canada has one with EFTA and has negotiated one with the EU. These agreements may need to be harmonised with the EU-US agreement and could potentially form a wider free trade area.

In early 2013, Canadian media observers had speculated that the launch of TTIP talks put pressure on Canada to conclude its own three-year-long FTA negotiations with the EU by the close of 2013.[87] Countries with customs agreements with the EU, especially Turkey, could face the prospect of opening their markets to American goods, without access for their own goods without a separate agreement with the United States.[88]

Reports[edit]

Various groups have produced reports about the proposed agreement, including:

  • The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Ambitious but Achievable - A Stakeholder Survey and Three Scenarios (April 2013) ISBN 978-1-61977-032-4[89]
  • TTIP and the Fifty States: Jobs and Growth from Coast to Coast (September 2013) ISBN 978-1-61977-038-6[90]
  • The Transatlantic Colossus: Global Contributions to Broaden the Debate on the EU-US Free Trade Agreement (December 2013) ISBN 978-3-00-044648-1[91]
  • The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: A Charter for Deregulation, An Attack on Jobs, An End to Democracy (February 2014)[92]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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    List of lead negotiators for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, Office of the United States Trade Representative

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