Breakfast — at T-Tip, not Tiffany’s

Any excuse for a picture of Audrey Hepburn!

Any excuse for a picture of Audrey Hepburn!

On March 6th, I attended a breakfast briefing on T-Tip.  That’s a two-syllable abbreviation for a four-syllable acronym, TTIP.  This in turn is an abbreviation for Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.  But in less portentous language (and plain English) it means the proposed EU/US free trade deal (FTA), negotiations for which were announced recently.

Let me be clear and avoid misunderstanding here.  I’d much rather that the UK had its own FTA with the USA.  And if we’d been a free and independent country, I rather suspect we’d have had such a deal with the US ten years ago, if not twenty.  But until now, the EU has been much keener on deals with former colonies of continental countries than with the Anglosphere.  But they’re catching up now, with Canada and the USA in the frame.

Given that as of today, we’ve off-shored our trade policy to Brussels, I think we have no alternative but to support the deal, even if we’d rather have done it ourselves.  And of course in principle free trade is an excellent thing, a consummation devoutly to be wished.  Depending on whom you ask, it’s estimated that such a deal would increase GDP growth rates on both sides of the water by half to one percent per annum.

But I have a concern.  I remember sitting down with Frenchman Pascal Lamy, who was EU Trade Commissioner 1999/2004 (he’s now DG of the WTO)., and with the (then) Ambassador of Singapore.  Both I and the Ambassador were urging Commissioner Lamy to initiate negotiations for an EU/Singapore trade deal.  But Lamy made no bones about it.  Such a deal would be valuable to Singapore (he ignored the fact that it would also be valuable to the EU) and the EU would therefore offer it as an incentive to ASEAN, the Association of South east Asian nations, to persuade them to adopt a policy of closer political and commercial integration on the EU model.

Be in no doubt: the EU wants to use any trade clout it thinks it has to promote “the European model of governance” around the world.  Now Singapore is certainly no push-over, and the USA perhaps less so.  But at this morning’s meeting we had the main man from DG Trade, Jean-Luc Demarty (seated alongside US Ambassador William E. Kennard), talking about regulatory convergence, common standards, health and safety, environmental measures and so on.

My fear is that the EU will try so hard to get the USA to adopt Cap’n’Trade (emissions trading), and other “green” measures, and ILO labour standards, and so on, that it will put the whole FTA project at risk.  They’re aiming to complete negotiations in 24 months.  Time will tell.

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13 Responses to Breakfast — at T-Tip, not Tiffany’s

  1. neilfutureboy says:

    The political clout of the EU & thus its ability to push “its model” is diminishing by the day as the world economy grows at 6% annually and the EU stagnates.

  2. You and Dan Hannan both agree that trade agreements are vital. But the EU is dragging its feet as you say. So far, only a very few countries have joined in a trade agreement. One of the major reasons we should leave the EU as soon as possible is that we desperately need to export to pay off our dreadful and fast increasing debt. Without free trade, we cannot do this and the debt mountain is growing very fast too.

  3. Ieuan Einion says:

    Roger, I understand that the TTIP includes a provision allowing US companies to sue the UK government if its policies impinge on their profits (e.g. by barring those companies from running NHS services or by re-nationalising the post office or railways – things for which UK citizens may very well vote). Is this not the most serious threat to UK Independence, sovereignty and democracy that we currently face? Surely you do have an alternative: to oppose the deal with every bone in your body. Marine le Pen’s current popularity in France is based, to no small degree, on her unwillingness to surrender sovereignty to the United States and big business.

  4. Pingback: The TTIP deal hands British sovereignty to multinationals - -

  5. rollo57 says:

    This Trade deal’ is more about grabbing Public Service rights, than trade, we already have very low ‘taxes’ on goods, but the Services sector is so lucrative. Imagine, all governments, spending and jobs, in the hands of the corporations?

    Get the whip out!

  6. Thom Foulkes says:

    The main problems with TTIP are as follows

    1) British business has no hand in the drafting. Success stories such as the many firms in the City are unable to push their experience in the sector and British financial interests and competitiveness may be at risk from America’s Dodd Frank protectionism.

    2) Because of the secretive nature of the deal (in some ways understandable to prevent hysteria), the main dialogue about the deal is coming from Greens, socialists and trade unions in the UK and Europe, and the anti NAFTA / Alex Jones conspiracy mob in the US . Cameron and Clegg have said very little about the deal, despite being supportive, so the public who do know about it are uniformly against it, based on leftist and / or protectionist propaganda. Even UKIP forums and some UKIP members are decrying this deal. The result being that essential investor protection via ISDS could be lost, and if Labour gain power before it is concluded, health and transport will be off the cards, leaving us with the socialist black holes of the NHS and Network Rail.

    3) The deal does not go far enough. Cameron is right to include the NHS, but we have a brilliant opportunity to open up policing, the forces and the justice system too. Some on the right may see this as unpalatable as the left do, but it is only right we use this as an opportunity to enhance competitiveness across all sectors, and firmly take the state as far out of people’s lives as we can. Individual police officers and soldiers must still swear their oath to the Queen, but the employer need not be the state.

    • Ieuan Einion says:

      My dear Mr. Foulkes, Are you seriously suggesting that we use mercenaries to police our country and fight our wars? This is exactly why UKIP should be opposing TTIP: to stop foreign and hostile business interests taking command of crucial areas of our lives and with it, our sovereignty.

      • Thom Foulkes says:

        Mercenaries is a loaded word. G4S however do an excellent job in all police functions bar actually acting as constables, private military contractors such as Blackwater / Academi have been serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. Army recruitment is already outsourced to Capita. I fail to see what the problem is whatsoever.

        National sovereignty does not equate to ‘state run’.

      • Ieuan Einion says:

        I don’t want to get into a row about this but if you google G4S the results will often have the words “scandal” and “rip-off” next to them. Blackwater is mostly familiar because four of its employees shot dead 14 civilians in Iraq. You must be living on a different planet from the one I inhabit or perhaps you are here in an attempt to discredit UKIP. There may be some positive examples of private companies providing public services: G4S and Blackwater are not amongst them.

      • Thom Foulkes says:

        Further to my reply, what I mean to add is, why shouldn’t G4S or whoever employ police constables when they provide pretty much every other service to the police? And why shouldn’t Transatlantic companies be permitted to do the same. Same with our forces. America is our ally.

  7. Thom Foulkes says:

    I have no interest in discrediting UKIP, just that the party is correct to want less government, and I don’t see any issue with further privatisation in order to get the state out of people’s lives. The only concern I have about UKIP is that as it increases in popularity, it is toning down or even rejecting privatisation as a solution, in order to appeal to ex Labour voters, and I believe this is a dangerous strategy, as if the party is to provide tax cuts and support wealth creation, we cannot have a massive state.

    G4S and Blackwater may well have had scandals, but if they were as ‘evil’ as made out to be, they would have been shut down and the directors jailed a long time ago. Regardless of those particular companies, the role of the private sector in all areas of life must be expanded.

  8. Pingback: Don't buy UKIP's hypocrisy on TTIP | Left Foot Forward

  9. Pingback: TTIP Talks Continue with Zero Transparency | Towards Emancipation

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