TTIP: Not Like Any Other Regional Free Trade Agreement
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is the latest attempt at a comprehensive trade agreement between the two economic powerhouses of the EU and the US. As more details emerge, it is becoming ever clearer that these negotiations will have far more reaching implications than the two regions involved. To what extent will the partnership affect multilateral relations, from which the EU has benefited so much, and how is it being received across the world?
The first round of talks, from July 8 to July 11, was held in Washington. The scale of the agreement, should it be finalised, has sparked debate as to the benefits and risks of the partnership to both European and global trade. The implementation of TTIP will bring major economical benefit to both the EU and US economies, while also contributing to the wider global economy, but some are wary of the geoeconomic implications of the EU-US agreement.
The press commentary this week looks at how TTIP is viewed worldwide. Commentators are looking further down the line at a harmonization between TTIP and other free trade agreements such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), while TTIP could be used as an influential stick to force China to adopt western standards. While these may be positive feats, others are worried about the damage that TTIP will cause to multilateralism and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- Trans-Atlantic trade gets set to go global The Prague Post (Czech Republic)
"The scale of the TTIP is enormous. With Croatia's accession at the beginning of July, the EU now consists of 28 member states, each of which has its own particular set of special interests pressing for trade promotion or protection, based on comparative advantage, history and raw domestic political power. (...) The TTIP is not just about the United States and the EU. Mexico already has an FTA with the EU, and Canada is negotiating one. At some point, NAFTA and TTIP will need to be harmonized."
— Michael J. Boskin, professor of economics at Stanford University and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, was chairman of George H. W. Bush's Council of Economic Advisers from 1989 to 1993
- Transatlantic trade: Is China in or out? The Hill (USA)
"No individual country has the influence to persuade China to play by the rules. No country's market is so big on its own that the threat of tariffs is enough to curb Beijing's behaviour. The TTIP zone would change that. It would present China with the choice of joining in or potentially being frozen out. Even though the Western press has largely overlooked this dimension of the TTIP, Beijing most assuredly has not. Intermittent claims of a potential trade cold war are bubbling up in Chinese media, and they're likely to intensify as the TTIP negotiations advance. Moreover, developing countries would be more likely to harmonize their rules in line with the principles of a well-designed TTIP. This is of particular concern to China, which is spending billions to pull governments into its economic orbit."
— Dan Grant, adjunct fellow at the American Security Project, a nonpartisan think tank who will be hosting an event on these issues on July 31, 2013
- EU takes a bad trade gamble against US China Daily (China)
"The US has no real interest in revitalizing multilateral trade negotiations, because bilateralism is much more effective in extracting concessions from emerging powers. Europe has neither the same geopolitical interests as the US, nor, more important, the same means, which implies that it has a greater stake in revitalizing multilateral trade. Indeed, the proliferation of bilateral agreements, with their own mechanisms for resolving differences, will inevitably weaken the WTO's dispute-settlement mechanism, further undermining multilateralism. The need to revive multilateralism is all the more important given that EU-US negotiations will likely be difficult and prolonged, owing especially to resistance from European and American regulators."
— Zaki Laidi, professor of International Relations at L'Institut d'tudes politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), and the author of Limited Achievements: Obama's Foreign Policy