Tag Archives: TTIP

Does TPP’s slow death mean the world is now unsafe for trade deals?

Charles Hankla, Georgia State University

It seems that the world has become unsafe for trade agreements. In particular, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a major new trade deal among the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations, has become a political lightning rod for both the left and the right.

As if to highlight that fact once again, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said recently that he would not bring the TPP to a vote until after the new president takes office in January.

That’s bad news for the trade agreement – and for President Barack Obama, who sees its passage as the final plank in his foreign policy legacy and who is pushing hard for a vote during Congress’ post-election lame duck session.

But the controversial Asian pact is not the only trade agreement potentially on the chopping block. Last month, the European Union’s trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, decided not to fast-track the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) due to the anti-trade climate prevailing on the continent.

And France’s President François Hollande just declared that his country would not support moving forward with the gigantic Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being negotiated between the U.S. and the EU. His announcement came on the heels of a statement by Germany’s vice chancellor that TTIP “has failed.”

It seems that every time we get closer to the conclusion and ratification of a trade deal, a new barrier emerges to block any progress. What, then, are we to make of the tremendous obstacles confronting these three major agreements?

McConnell, second from right, has endorsed Trump, who has made anti-trade rhetoric a big part of his campaign. Jim Young/Reuters

The times they are a-changin’

First and foremost, opposition to trade is a sign of the times. The Great Recession, among other events, has generated strong pushback against globalization and liberal exchange, something that seems to have caught political elites around the world off guard.

The Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) had already come apart well before the recession. Its failure meant that a multilateral deal, one that would have committed nearly all of the world’s countries to the same trade agenda, was no longer possible.

At the heart of Doha’s collapse were the interests of the newly rising BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – which could not be reconciled with those of the U.S. and the EU. The failure of the WTO, in its turn, gave new impetus to regional agreements such as TTIP and TPP.

Initially, these regional agreements, along with their more modest bilateral cousins (deals between only two nations), were treated with suspicion by free traders, who feared that they would carve up the global trading system into inefficient blocs. But, in time, such agreements presented themselves as the best, and only, way forward in a more complex, multipolar economic environment.

Still, TTIP and TPP are more than just victims of the general skepticism for globalization that has arisen in the past few years. They are also the collateral damage from political events in the world’s major trading countries.

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström worries about the public opposition to CETA and TTIP. Jason Lee/Reuters

Illiberalism on the rise

First among these is the U.K.’s Brexit vote, which is likely to result in the country’s withdrawal from the EU. Brexit, which is itself the fruit of growing illiberalism in England and Wales, has distracted European leaders to such a degree that TTIP and CETA have moved onto the back burner.

Moreover, in the United States, the success of Donald Trump in mobilizing the anti-globalization working class has made Republicans in Congress, who typically support trade as good for business, wary of trade deals. It has also led Hillary Clinton to distance herself from previous statements supporting TPP made during her tenure at secretary of state.

Another problem facing TPP and TTIP is their unprecedented scope. Not only do these agreements create free trade blocs that encompass much of the world’s economic output, but they also touch on a variety of issues from internet freedom to generic drug prices to the right of private investors to sue states for compensation. Many of the most controversial elements of the agreements relate to these issues rather than to the traditional components of trade protection.

What happens next?

What would be the consequences if these agreements fail?

Economically, the U.S. is already tightly linked with both Asia and Europe. The TPP agreement would essentially expand the Pacific trade bloc beyond NAFTA to include nine additional countries, most significantly Japan. Similarly, TTIP would deepen the already significant economic interdependence that traverses the Atlantic.

The loss of these agreements would certainly have negative economic effects on all sides, as least in the aggregate (since some jobs would be saved by the reduced competition). Agreements this large cannot be jettisoned without consequences.

That said, given the deep connections that already exist among Asia, North America and Europe, the purely economic results of killing the agreements are likely to be important, but not enormous. More serious would be the geostrategic implications.

A rejection of TTIP by either side could signal a reduced U.S. presence in Europe, a particular concern in the face of increasing Russian assertiveness.

Meanwhile, an end to TPP could encourage a number of Asian countries, unsure of America’s future in the region, to move into China’s growing sphere of influence. It is no surprise that this last argument is the one being made most aggressively by the Obama administration.

Long live free trade?

If TTIP and TPP are not likely to be approved any time soon, does this mean that they are already dead?

A President Trump would certainly kill the agreements. If, however, Hillary Clinton becomes the next president, as the polls seem to indicate, their future is harder to predict. Clinton seems to be, at heart, a believer in open markets, but the current political situation makes it hard for her to say so directly.

If elected, Clinton’s statements during the campaign would make it difficult for her to support TPP out of the gate, especially with strong opposition from Bernie Sanders supporters. As envisioned by Cato trade analyst Simon Lester, she may well try to renegotiate a portion of the agreement as political cover and then resubmit it to Congress for approval.

By this point, if Trumpism has been defeated, Republicans may have a greater appetite for foreign trade. The question, of course, is whether the other TPP signatory countries will be willing to reopen portions of the agreement that have already been concluded.

Similarly, in Europe, it seems unlikely that much progress will be made until the Brexit issue is resolved and growth starts to pick up.

Despite all the obstacles, however, I believe that it is important to keep moving forward on free trade. The rejection of these important agreements could risk becoming merely the first step in a gradual erosion of support for the global economic architecture.

This architecture, so carefully created and maintained by the United States after 1945, has contributed mightily to international prosperity and peace. Maintaining it is of critical importance.

The Conversation

Charles Hankla, Associate Professor of Political Science, Georgia State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Editor’s note: Occupy World Writes believes that TTP/TTIP would be bad not only for American workers, but for workers around the globe. However, we feel that there is another side that deserves to be heard concerning the potential impact of not ratifying these agreement. Hence, this article.

 

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TTIP Has ‘De Facto Failed,’ Says German Economic Minister

‘Negotiations with the U.S. have de facto failed, because of course as Europeans we couldn’t allow ourselves to submit to American demands’

By Nika Knight, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-28-2016

"Everything has stalled," German Vice Chancellor and Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. (Photo: Garry Knight/flickr/cc)

“Everything has stalled,” German Vice Chancellor and Economic Minister Sigmar Gabriel said. (Photo: Garry Knight/flickr/cc)

Germany’s Vice Chancellor and Economic Minister said that the controversial Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has “de facto failed,” admitting that negotiations between the U.S. and E.U. have completely stalled.

“Negotiations with the U.S. have de facto failed, because of course as Europeans we couldn’t allow ourselves to submit to American demands,” Sigmar Gabriel told the German news station ZDF in an interview that will air at 7pm German time Sunday, according to Der Spiegel. Continue reading

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After Brexit, European Left Calls for ‘Massive Political Opposition’

‘What Europe needs more than ever to avoid a slide into a xenophobic, deflationary, 1930s-like abyss’

By Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-24-2016

Photo: Amnesty international via Twitter

Photo: Amnesty international via Twitter

In the tumultuous aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the European left is responding with a mix of reason, measured reassurances, and righteous defiance.

Left Unity, a populist UK political party, released a statement early Friday morning that criticized the right-wing organizers of the Leave campaign and vowed to “step up the fight against neo-liberalism here—opposing all cuts, defending the NHS [National Health Service], fighting for decent housing—and across Europe.”

“In Brexit Britain, we still face austerity, poverty and extreme inequality: the rotten policies of our government are still here,” Left Unity’s executive committee said. “We deeply regret that the working people of Britain have been deceived and manipulated into believing that Brexit will bring about relief from the grinding austerity that is destroying lives and communities.” Continue reading

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White House Caught Blackmailing EU to Force Them to Import GMO and Hormone-Laden Products

It appears that the Obama administration wants to leave the world with a lasting legacy of multinational corporate hegemony by blackmailing the EU into corporate subservience — all the while undermining state sovereignty through secretive supranational trade pacts.

Written by Jay Syrmopoulos. Published by Free Thought Project on 5-4-16.

"The lines of demarcation in TTIP are between the mutually exclusive interests of transnational big business and people and the planet; if the deal passes, the former wins and the latter lose," writes Mark Dearn. (Photo: Global Justice Now/flickr/cc)

“The lines of demarcation in TTIP are between the mutually exclusive interests of transnational big business and people and the planet; if the deal passes, the former wins and the latter lose,” writes Mark Dearn. (Photo: Global Justice Now/flickr/cc)

(Washington, D.C.) – In a stunning revelation, secret documents reveal the U.S. pressuring the EU to approve the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade pact through coercion and threats.

The 240 pages of leaked text from the secretive trade pact reveal the Obama administration threatening to block European automobile imports into the U.S. if the EU continues to refuse U.S. genetically modified products and hormone-treated produce.

The White House made clear the intention to block European car exports into the US to force the roughly 500 million strong EU to buy more environmentally risky US farm produce, according to the German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung, along with two German public television channels.

In an attempt to undermine the extremely secretive negotiations surrounding the trade deal between the U.S. and EU, Greenpeace released the texts, which were then made public by the German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung. The German DPA news agency confirmed the authenticity of the documents.

Effectively, by blocking car exports into the U.S., Obama wanted to force the EU to replace its precautionary consumer safety principle with the liberal U.S. approach of permitting foodstuffs until risks are proven, said ARD network’s channels NDR and WDR.

The EU operates under a principle that goods must first be certified as safe, which has often been cited by them as a means to constrain imports of American gene-manipulated and hormone-treated produce.

The goal behind the U.S. actions is to undermine the strict food safety regime of the EU in an effort to open up new markets for American produced GMO fruits and vegetables, which European regulators feel would potentially erode the health of EU consumers and adversely affect Europe’s agriculture industry overall.

The long-term impact of genetically engineered products remains unknown, as there have been no studies on prolonged and regular/heavy usage of GMO products, as is seen in the average American diet. While there has been a major correlation between the introduction of GMO into the U.S. food system and an epidemic of obesity, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, there are no conclusive studies linking them.

It appears that the Obama administration wants to leave the world with a lasting legacy of multinational corporate hegemony by blackmailing the EU into corporate subservience — all the while undermining state sovereignty through secretive supranational trade pacts.

This article is republished under a free and open use permission from Free Thought Project.

Editorial Comment:
The debate about GMO safety remains hotly contested. The above article states “While there has been a major correlation between the introduction of GMO into the U.S. food system and an epidemic of obesity, cancer, and autoimmune diseases, there are no conclusive studies linking them.” We contend that those who are developing and marketing GMO products also pay lobbyists to prevent these very studies. We did find an opposing point of view, and welcome your additions in the comments section.

 

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‘Today Marks the End of TTIP’: Greenpeace Leak Exposes Corporate Takeover

The secret documents represent roughly two-thirds of the latest negotiating text, and in several cases expose for the first time the position of the U.S.

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-2-2016

WikiLeaks had previously announced a €100,000 "bounty" for the full TTIP text. (Image: Greenpeace)

WikiLeaks had previously announced a €100,000 “bounty” for the full TTIP text. (Image: Greenpeace)

Confirming that the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) amounts to “a huge transfer of power from people to big business,” Greenpeace Netherlands on Monday leaked 248 secret pages of the controversial trade deal between the U.S. and EU, exposing how environmental regulations, climate protections, and consumer rights are being “bartered away behind closed doors.”

The documents represent roughly two-thirds of the latest negotiating text, according to Greenpeace, and on some topics offer for the first time the position of the United States.  Continue reading

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Calling Corporate-Backed Deals an “Indisputable” Good, Obama Makes Pitch for TTIP

Sitting next to Chancellor Angela Merkel during a summit in Germany, U.S. president continued to ignore opponents as he defended controversial agreement with European nations

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-24-2016

Photo: droppants

Photo: droppants

Despite the tens of thousands of people who marched against the deal in Germany ahead of his arrival and the steady drop in support for such neoliberal trade deals overall, President Barack Obama stood next to Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday and defended the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and said similar past deals have been an “indisputable” benefit to the U.S. economy.

“It is indisputable that [“free trade”] has made our economy stronger,” Obama said during a joint news conference. “It has made sure that our businesses are the most competitive in the world.” Continue reading

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Trade Officials Promised Exxon That TTIP Will Erase Environmental ‘Obstacles’ Worldwide

EU trade officials soothed the oil giant as it fretted about new regulations popping up in Global South

By Lauren McCauley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-23-2016

The revelations underscore criticisms that trade agreements like the TTIP constitute a "race to the bottom" for environmental, public health, and labor standards. (Photo: Holger Boening/cc/flickr)

The revelations underscore criticisms that trade agreements like the TTIP constitute a “race to the bottom” for environmental, public health, and labor standards. (Photo: Holger Boening/cc/flickr)

Newly released documents show that, in back-room talks, European officials assured ExxonMobil that the pending US-EU trade agreement would force the removal of regulatory “obstacles” worldwide, thus opening up even more countries to exploitation by the fossil fuel empire.

Heavily redacted documents pertaining to an October 2013 meeting, obtained by theGuardian and reported on Tuesday, reveal that then-trade commissioner Karel de Gucht met with two officials from ExxonMobil’s EU and U.S. divisions to address the benefits of the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Continue reading

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European Groups Expose ‘Terrifying Extent of Corporate Grab’ Within TTIP

‘The ability to enact effective and fair tax systems to finance vital public services is one of the defining features of sovereignty,’ says Global Justice Now—one that is threatened by corporate trade deals

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-15-2016

Mexico has been successfully sued by a consortium of U.S.-based agribusiness giants, after introducing a new tax on the sales of soft drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup in an effort to counter the obesity epidemic. (Photo: Hernán García Crespo/flickr/cc)

Mexico has been successfully sued by a consortium of U.S.-based agribusiness giants, after introducing a new tax on the sales of soft drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup in an effort to counter the obesity epidemic. (Photo: Hernán García Crespo/flickr/cc)

Even with global inequality at historic highs and corporate tax evasion in the public spotlight, a new report out Monday shows how a so-called free trade deal between the U.S. and European Union could further threaten tax justice, hampering governments’ ability to ensure that critical public services are well funded or to pursue progressive tax practices.

According to the London-based Global Justice Now and the Netherlands-headquartered Transnational Institute, the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) “would massively increase the ability of corporations to sue member states of the EU over measures such as windfall taxes on exceptional profits, or use of taxation as a policy instrument such as a possible ‘sugar tax’.” Continue reading

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The Pipeline Strikes Back: the audacity of TransCanada’s $15b suit against the U.S.

The political saga of the Keystone XL pipeline is like a real-life version of The Force Awakens. So why are we giving the Dark Side even more power?

By Jim Shultz. Published 2-5-16 by openDemocracy

The Empire Strikes Back. Credit: starwars.wikia.com.

The Empire Strikes Back. Credit: starwars.wikia.com.

In case you didn’t notice, the new blockbuster Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, ends pretty much the same way the first one did when it came out in the summer of 1977. The bad guys build a Death Star machine that can kill whole planets, the good guys fight back with pluck and grit, and, just in the nick of time, destroy the machine.

The political saga of the Keystone XL pipeline has followed essentially the same plot. TransCanada (playing the role of the Empire) sought to build a metal tunnel from Alberta to the Gulf Coast to transport oil from the Canadian tar sands. The pipeline, not unlike a Death Star, threatened the planet because it would have amped up carbon emissions and quickened the pace of global climate change. In the Keystone saga, pluck and grit came in the form of protests, lawsuits, arrests, and the encirclement of the White House—the equivalent of a Jedi counter-attack. Continue reading

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Exposed: ‘Full Range of Collusion’ Between Big Oil and TTIP Trade Reps

New documents underscore ‘the corporate nature of the deal and its devastating consequences for climate change’

By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 11-27-2015

"The lines of demarcation in TTIP are between the mutually exclusive interests of transnational big business and people and the planet; if the deal passes, the former wins and the latter lose," writes Mark Dearn. (Photo: Global Justice Now/flickr/cc)

“The lines of demarcation in TTIP are between the mutually exclusive interests of transnational big business and people and the planet; if the deal passes, the former wins and the latter lose,” writes Mark Dearn. (Photo: Global Justice Now/flickr/cc)

Amid warnings that the proposed TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) could undermine global attempts to rein in runaway climate change, new documents reveal that EU trade officials gave U.S. oil giant ExxonMobil access to confidential negotiating strategies considered too sensitive to be released to the European public.

The documents, obtained by the Guardian, offer “an extraordinary glimpse into the full degree of collusion between the European commission and multinational corporations seeking to use TTIP to increase U.S. exports of fossil fuels,” said John Hilary, the director of the UK organization War on Want. “The commission is allowing the oil majors to write the proposed energy chapter of TTIP in their favor.” Continue reading

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