The world’s largest free trade zone is coming – what will it mean? | euronews, world news

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the USA is still being negotiated, and it has interesting implications for countries with existing Free Trade Agreements with those two entities. For the USA, the implications for its Canadian and Mexican partners in NAFTA are still being considered. For the EU, its free trade partners in many cases are still considering whether to get on the TTIP train for free access to the USA market or not. Such countries include Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, and of course the Eastern Partnership countries of Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. Just as the DCFTA with Europe will involve a certain amount of pain, and some enterprises may fail as a result of increased regulation, restructuring industries to comply with US norms will be complicated. This paper by a Polish graduate student outlines some of the key issues quite clearly.

The issue of Genetically Modified Organisms will be an interesting one, as the EU and USA have a very different approach. GMO approvals in Europe must pass through political as well as technical assessments, whereas the US approach is more technical in orientation. To what extent a TTIP member state like Georgia would streamline GMO approvals to meet US expectations remains to be seen.

 

The EU and US are in talks to create the world’s biggest free trade zone, claiming it will make both regions richer than ever.

But critics question the alleged economic benefits of the deal – called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – and say the inclusion of investor-state settlement dispute clauses will undermine democracy.

Activists will take to the streets on Saturday (April 18) in what is expected to be one of the biggest protests against the EU-US trade deal.

A huge alliance of groups have come together to organise a global day of action (#A18DoA) against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Negotiations began in 2013. The ninth round of talks is set to begin in New York on Monday, April 20, 2015.

Karel De Gucht, former EU commissioner for trade, said last year there was a “window of opportunity” to tie up the deal in 2015, or early 2016.

Everything you need to know about the TTIP trade negotiations

Why do we need an EU-US trade deal?

Talk of a trade deal between the EU and US has been around for decades but the catalyst for action was the economic crisis in 2008.

The powers-that-be decided, because the EU-US trade relationship was already the biggest in the world, it could be a relatively cheap way of boosting both economies.

The idea is that by removing trade barriers it will make it easier and simpler to buy and sell goods and services.

Trade barriers include differences in technical regulations or standards. The EU cites manufacturing a car as an example. At present, the vehicle could pass safety regulations in the EU, but would then have to go through another process for approval in the US.

What are the benefits of TTIP?

The removal of tariffs and harmonising of regulatory frameworks could bring significant gains for EU and the US, according to a report by the UK Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).

It claims the deal would boost the EU’s economy by 119 billion euros a year and the US’ by 95 billion euros.

The report also says the deal would create new jobs for high- and low-skilled workers.

But some have disputed the economic riches the trade deal will allegedly bring.

They include Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel who said in April 2015: “I don’t believe the wondrous calculations for economic growth from TTIP. All the estimates about its impact… give an impression of voodoo economics.”

Another is Dr Gabriel Siles-Brügge, from the University of Manchester, who says the figures claimed by CEPR are ‘vastly overblown and deeply-flawed’.

He claims EU calculations assume that almost all sectors will be standardised, of which there is little chance, he adds.

A report published in 2013 by the Seattle to Brussels Network echoed concerns about how many jobs the deal would create.

It cited the NAFTA deal in 1993 – designed to boost investment and trade between the US, Canada and Mexico – claiming it resulted in the loss of nearly one million jobs.

Where are the main differences of opinion?

One key area where the US and EU differ is genetically modified foods.

The production of GM foods sees DNA from another organism added to them to create a perceived advantage. For example, proponents of GM crops argue they can be made to be more resistant to pests, thereby increasing productivity.

The EU has some of the strictest GM regulations in the world (each case is subject to a science-based evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority before going before the European Commission) and has authorised just 52 to date.

The US, on the other hand, is the largest commercial grower of GM crops in the world. It wants the EU’s regulatory process to be harmonised.

The EC says the trade deal will not see laws changing on GMOs: “Basic laws, like those relating to GMOs or which are there to protect human life and health, animal health and welfare, or environment and consumer interests will not be part of the negotiations.”

Friends of the Earth in Europe said: “US negotiators at the talks have been clear that one of their main aims is to increase market access for US agri-business.

“The US negotiators argue that European regulations should take a similar approach to US regulations and be based purely on scientific assessments, often provided by the biotech companies themselves – rather than needing the political approval of the European Council, Commission and Parliament, which allows wider impacts such as ethics and the impacts on the environment and on society to be taken into account.”

There is also concern that US producers will be able to sell their meat in European markets, which is produced with different standards. For example chickens in the US are disinfected with chlorine, a practice banned in Europe.

via The world’s largest free trade zone is coming – what will it mean? | euronews, world news.

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