Put this up your TTIP! My what?
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnerhsip (TTIP) could be a huge bonanza for Brits, continental Europeans and Americans. Free trade obviously makes people better off. So take a wild guess at who wants to stop it all?
What is this ugly acronym ‘TTIP’ that is getting the chattering classes into such a lather? The great unwashed remnants of the anti-globalisation campaigners are already mobilising.
Well, it is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Who cares?
We all should. It will be the largest free-trade agreement ever. It will account for about 60 percent of world GDP. It is estimated that it will increase EU GDP by around 5 percent; there is already a substantial balance of EU/US trade surplus in favour of the EU. It would be a market of 820 million people.
Its overarching aim will be the reduction of trade barriers between the two signatories. If it comes to pass, that is. Unsurprisingly, the French are being typically obstructive. Anything that might threaten their bloated farmers and feather-bedded industries is anathema to them.
The sectors to be included are textiles, chemicals], pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, medical devices cars, electronics and information technology, machinery and engineering, pesticides, sanitary measures and barriers to trade in food and agricultural products.
The main exports from the US to the EU are aircraft, machinery, and fuel oils, together worth $471 billion. The top US imports are machinery, vehicles and pharmaceuticals, in all, worth $535 billion.
There are some basic issues to be sorted.
There are concerns that Big Business could sue governments, such as an American tobacco company suing the UK for introducing plain packaging cigarettes. This could be seen as an attack on democratic sovereignty.
The Greens are choking on their organic muesli at the thought of having to admit GM foods and hormone-treated beef, although the Americans have been consuming large quantities of both for years without dropping dead in the street.
There are worries that the NHS could face legal action if it tried to de-privatise any of its contracted-out services. The financial services industry is worried that the draconian regime regulating American banks could be enforced here.
Many people are concerned that it will all lead to even larger crony-capitalism, with gargantuan enterprises able to get governments to do their bidding, never mind ‘the people’, because of their huge clout.
At this time we only know what is being negotiated. We don’t know what is being decided. There is everything to play for.
Robin Mitchinson is a Contributing Editor to The Commentator. A former barrister, living in the Isle of Man, he is an international public management specialist with almost two decades of experience in institutional development, decentralisation and democratisation processes. He has advised governments and major international institutions across the world
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