CMV: The EU should shun trade deals like TTIP - but not because they harm Europe but because they weaken global coordination in trade

Sun Jun 24 2018 15:00:00 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)


Mathias Risse

Harvard University

Professor of Philosophy and Pubic Policy

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CMV: The EU should shun deals like TTIP – but not because they harm Europe but because they weaken global coordination in trade

- Mega-trade deals like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between big regional trade powers like the EU and US are attractive for both parties because the current (Doha) trade round of the World Trade Organisation is going nowhere
- This stalemate is due to the WTO’s failure to honour the interests of developing countries
- While Obama pushed for TTIP, Trump withdrew the US from the negotiations
- However, the project might well resurface in the future. But it should not. Mega-regionalism of this sort undermines any prospects of getting global trade deals that include developing countries.
- TTIP was unpopular with many EU citizens anyway. Yet, their self-centred concerns about loss of democratic control or transnational companies becoming too powerful might well have been fixed over time. As a “living document” TTIP had potential for adjustments.
- But what about the developing world? Pessimists fear mega-regionalism will simply leave it out in the cold.
- Optimists hope mega-regionalism will eventually also benefit developing countries, through gradual extension.
- Even in this benign scenario, though, the wealthy countries would have a huge first-mover advantage. Everybody else will simply have to adjust. Developing countries will get a bad deal, as they always have since the beginning of global trade coordination after the Second World War.
- Hence, if it cares about global justice, the EU should shun mega-regionalism and rather do its best to make the WTO succeed.

Background Information

  • A critical point that has been mostly absent from political and public debate around TTIP and similar trade deals is that that they hinder global coordination in trade

    • As more or less “bilateral” trade agreements, TTIP and similar agreements stand diametrically opposed to a multilateralization of trade policies

    • TTIP and similar agreements inhibit steps taken towards greater trade harmonization between the global “North” and “South”

    • Not only, do these agreements make cooperation more difficult, but the also actively exclude important economic players outside of Europe and the USA, such as China, India and Brazil and might also have adverse effects for states such as Mexico, Canada and Japan

    • As bilateral agreements TTIP and similar agreements do not have the power to introduce global environmental and social standards, as their scope is limited

Read more

The geopolitical implications of TTIP

Trade policy in the era of TTIP

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