It's in Britain's best interest, even after Brexitby Rem Korteweg / September 6, 2016 / Leave a comment
TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, is in trouble. A chilly protectionist breeze is blowing across the west and the likelihood of reaching and ratifying a deal is receding. Its collapse would be bad news for transatlantic co-operation and a setback for Brexit Britain.
This week, Germany’s vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and France’s trade minister Matthias Fekl threw a wrench into the negotiations. Gabriel raised doubts about whether the talks should continue, while Fekl announced he would seek a stop to the negotiations. Both left-wing politicians fear that with elections approaching in 2017, and their constituencies increasingly sceptical of a deal, they have little to gain from making painful compromises.
In the United States, both major presidential candidates are campaigning on anti-free trade platforms, taking particular aim at the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Since TPP’s focus is on Asia, and TTIP’s is on Europe, some have suggested that they are in competition. But both pacts aim to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade. If the next US president cancels TPP, he or she would probably not be in the market for TTIP either.
Even if a deal were reached, ratification in Europe would be difficult. The parliaments of all EU member-states and the European Parliament must agree to TTIP. According to the EU’s in-house polling data, its support has decreased continuously since 2014 and majorities now oppose a deal in Germany, Austria, Luxembourg and Slovenia. A bellwether for Europe’s ability to convince its people will be the ratification of the recent EU trade agreement with Canada. If parliaments block that deal, TTIP will stumble too.
Public opposition to TTIP fits within a broader western trend of retreat from globalisation towards protectionism and nationalism. Rising inequality, job losses and concerns about unfair competition are fuelling opposition to free trade. Increasingly too, European citizens are critical of their own variant of globalisation: the free movement of peoples, goods and capital. This has gone hand-in-hand with an anti-establishment backlash. Publics accuse political elites of favouring the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of ordinary citizens. Britain’s vote for Brexit, support for Donald Trump in the US, and rising opposition to TTIP in Europe…