For over a year now, officials from the US government and the European Union plus invited industry experts are meeting in regular intervals – the fifth round of negotiations just concluded in Arlington, VA, – to hash out a transatlantic free trade agreement, called TTIP or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Are you aware of what has been achieved so far? Do you support or reject the negotiation positions? Do you care?
From my point of view …we all should care or at least have an opinion.
Because the “right kind” of free trade between the US and EU member states could tremendously benefit small and mid-size manufacturers, create jobs, improve political ties between the trading blocs, and increase the well-being for most of the 830 million people on both sides of the Atlantic and even around the globe.
Yes, Europeans and Americans cherish their cultural differences. Yes, some local farming communities and small industries need to be protected to prevent regional economic hardship. But, if we’re honest, most tariffs and technical or regulatory differences – especially pertaining to food and agriculture – were established many decades ago to keep competition out and could simply be abolished or harmonized without concerns for consumer safety or sanity.
Alas, right now, massive resistance to any kind of trade deal is already fermenting in Europe, most vocally in Germany, for the right and wrong reasons. Anti global trade groups like Campact, Attac, Greenpeace and other consumer advocacy groups have taken over the airwaves and public opinion and raise the specter that chlorinated chicken, hormone-treated beef and genetically modified muesli, along with fracking-induced earthquakes and unrestrained capitalism will doom European civilization.
Food, of course, is always at the center of international disputes. So, it’s time for the free trade advocates other than the Chamber of Commerce and Big Industry to stand up and perform a reality check on the issues.
In the following posts, I will provide my personal views and insights on some of the most burning issues related to TTIP (from the perspective of a life-long foodie and small business owner with some expertise in international trade):
Checks and Balances for Free Trade
- Culture vs. Commerce
- Reality Check on Chlorination and Genetic Modification
- Tariffs vs. Standards
- Intellectual Property and Investor Protection
Of course, any feedback is greatly appreciated. 🙂