Developing countries concerned about U.S.-EU economic treaty

The Hindu, April 10, 2014
Even as a fourth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the U.S. and European Union was concluded recently, experts from developing countries as well as within the U.S. have underscored concerns emerging from the powerful trade bloc that this new treaty would represent, if successful.

Speaking at a roundtable event here organised by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and Just Jobs Network, Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes at the Pew Research Center and Pradeep Mehta, Secretary-General, CUTS International, India, said the TTIP was “creating a model of ‘mega-trade agreements’ [and] would encompass approximately a third of all international trade flows and establish new benchmarks for global trade regulations.”

Mr. Stokes argued that the US may use trade as a means of national security objectives, and in this context the TTIP “could be seen as a counter measure against increasing growth in Asia… a measure against China, [or, as] Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, remarked recently [about] NATO, [it could be seen] as a strategic initiative, especially in light of the crisis in Ukraine.

Mr. Stokes added that in terms of the U.S. public’s attitude toward the TTIP, the majority expressed support for it, even if they however have less understanding on the specifics of the agreement. “Americans are more in favor of common standards promoted in the TTIP than Europeans,” he said, noting that although EU standards were typically higher than in the U.S., it is uncertain how common standards will impact business and labour for the negotiating parties.

Commenting on the viewpoint of developing countries Mr. Mehta said preliminary research showed that in aggregate, a third of India’s exports go to the TTIP-Trans-Pacific Partnership region and a fourth of India’s imports come from there. “TTIP is likely to have a higher negative impact on India’s trade than TPP,” he cautioned.

The forward momentum on the TTIP comes even as India and the U.S. find themselves enmeshed in an ever-deepening cycle of trade disputes, on everything from solar panel manufacturing to compulsory licensing in pharmaceuticals and telecommunications sectors.”

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