A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership: The proposed EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP/TAFTA), Kim Bizzarri, Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) October 2013, pp. 32

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On 13 February 2013, US President Barack Obama and leaders of the European Union committed themselves to launching negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also known as TAFTA (Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement). This report presents the results of S2B’s preliminary analysis of the socio-economic, environmental and geo-political risks of such a transatlantic trade deal.

TTIP was initially sold on the basis of the economic benefits it would bring, but the report finds that EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht made “grossly exaggerated claims about TTIP’s economic benefits” and that “the socio-economic and environmental risks associated with [its] trivial economic benefits could be catastrophic.” In reality, TTIP aims to concentrate even more economic and political power in the hands of a small Atlantic elite.

What emerges is “an understanding of TTP as the political project of a transatlantic corporate and political elite which, on the unfounded promise of increased trade and job creation, will attempt to reserve social and environmental regulatory protections, redirect legal rights from citizens to corporations and consolidate US and Europe global leadership in a changing world order.”

The report invites us to see the EU-US trade partnership as a strategy to preserve Atlantic leadership in global affairs in a period when their hegemony is being threatened by the rise of many emerging economies (e.g. Brazil, Russia, India and China). This strategy requires the “lowest common denominator” harmonisation of rules and regulations between the US and the European Union, but the report points out that this is likely to cause many more problems than expected.

For example, in the environmental field: “TTIP may threaten existing European moratoria on the controversial extraction of shale gas... whilst also undermining Europe’s iconic chemical regulation REACH by circumnavigating the testing requirements for thousands of toxic chemicals.”

There are risks for the health of European consumers too, as European laws on food safety offer more protection than in the USA, regarding genetically modified organisms for instance, and it seems likely that the agreement’s proposal to harmonise health regulations will lead to worsening health standards.

Finally, the report observes that US financial regulations, which are currently stricter than in the EU, could be jeopardised, as big banks intend to use the trade negotiations to undermine post-crisis efforts to introduce more stringent financial regulations . Available online here (pdf).

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