While the United States Trade Representative has been finishing up the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement that covers Pacific Rim economies, it has also been working on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a new trade pact with the European Union. Both agreements are favorable to corporations, but while increasing awareness of the TPP has generated public backlash, work on the TTIP has gone more under the radar. On December 16, negotiators met in Washington for the third round of TTIP talks, against a fragile backdrop of both a mini-rebellion in Congress against fast-tracking the TPP, and continuing revelations of U.S. spying habits worldwide.
Advocates of the TIPP argue that the goal of the agreement is what they call “regulatory harmonization,” echoing similar calls from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The idea is to standardize U.S. and European regulations on a variety of matters including finance, the environment, labor, and online data protection. Critics worry the final agreement could result in the most lax, corporate-friendly regulations for all countries involved. One potential provision is the EU’s desire for a “Regulatory Cooperation Council” that would be tasked with evaluating existing regulations and coordinating future rules. Another potential provision is the so-called “investor-state dispute settlement,” which would allow corporations to sue governments without being bound by domestic laws.
The agreement remains largely a secret, and the USTR’s Dan Mullaney has expressed the belief that negotiators need private space to negotiate in the national interest. A session of “stakeholder presentations” were held at George Washington University to provide negotiators with outside feedback, but on both sides of the Atlantic the stakeholders were overwhelmingly representative of business interests. The TTIP’s future is still uncertain, and will likely depend on the actions of Congress.
Cole Stangler, “The Next Corporate-Friendly Trade Pact,” In These Times, December 30, 2013, http://inthesetimes.com/article/16044/ttip_the_next_corporate_friendly_trade_deal.
Student Researcher: Noah Tenney (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)