dapperandspiffing replied to your post:If you have questions, ask an expert: Yes. What’s your take on TTIP? Very much criticised in Germany. Thanks for being awesome and knowing such important stuff!!!!
Hey J, thanks for asking and for the compliment (blush).
My ‘take’ is complex and rooted in history (scroll to bold for the short version), as any expert take should be; my opinion of the TTIP has more to do with power and authority than the substance of the negotiations, which I’d generally say I’m pretty wary of.
The TTIP is, essentially, just another regional trade agreement (RTA), and the US and Europe are simply seeking gains in trade that cannot be made within how (power in) the WTO has evolved: businesses in these countries whose interests are not being served in the WTO. Just as UNCTAD and the OECD evolved as a response to the areas of policy that the WTO was ill-equiped to govern, the TTIP is an expression of American and European interests that the WTO is (currently) ill-suited to govern.
Some have argued it’s a shady deal that can only be done outside the WTO (RTAs do come under the umbrella of the WTO, however), but others argue that states are just rational, self-interested actors seeking to expand trade in ways that are otherwise ‘closed’. Trade delegations represent national (self) interests (duh!). Naturally American interests and European interests vary in TTIP, particularly when it comes to food (GMOs, hormones in meat, European food culture etc), as evident by the cases between these two trading blocs in the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body.
But RTAs, in theory, represent cooperative national interests, and for me, there is a core issue here as to whether the TTIP represents the interests of CITIZENS or CORPORATIONS in the US and Europe. In the US, there’s no difference, since corporations have legal person-hood, but in Europe this is not the case. Natural products of their individual political cultures, CITIZENS of Europe are more engaged in the TTIP than their American counterparts. If the TTIP ‘hears’ no dissent from American CITIZENS - and CORPORATIONS are pro-TTIP - then the TTIP represents all of American interests; it’s just those pesky European CITIZENS (and Germans ;-)) who aren’t on board (ie: interests are not reflected in the TTIP). That leaves it down to the European delegation to either incorporate the interests of European CITIZENS into TTIP, go against the interests of European CITIZENS, or leave the deal undone for lack of political support (similar to the recent failure of all WTO member states to ratify the trade facilitation deal in the Bali package of the Doha Development Agenda).
So the questions about the TTIP that are more my ‘expertise’ and concern are: whose interests are being represented, who has authority to govern, and whose interests are most valued: CITIZENS and/or BUSINESS. With slippery international legal ‘loopholes’ built into TTIP, I’d say we know at least one answer to these questions. My ‘take’ is that states govern as they see fit to represent their interests, and the TTIP is a massive RTA, ranging from food to health care to intellectual property. In general, I am an advocate of trade liberalisation, but I tend to side more with the Europeans, as I find corporate personhood to be antithetical to democracy, ie: oligarchy. As of this moment, I don’t find the TTIP to be terribly democratic. And THIS is why I support the WTO and clarifying what it is the WTO does, which is democratic trade liberalisation. The WTO’s decision-making structure prohibits any gains in trade liberalisation that is not democratic for all (current) 160 member states, again, hence the current failure of all member states to ratify the trade facilitation deal. The WTO machinery may not be perfect (single undertaking, consensus, etc), but it’s the machinery that trading nations built. And it’s one of the most democratic organisations in global governance.
That should tell you something about the TTIP …