28.1 Will the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and the EU provide enhanced opportunities for economic development around the world in a way that the WTO system now cannot?

1. Why has the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership proved so controversial?

  • One of the main arguments against the TTIP negotiations state that it is nothing but a charter for MNC's. Critics argue that the early drafts of the treaty are structured in a way that it makes it easier for companies to sue governments that obstruct their ability to make money. It also creates social and environmental regulations which hinder taxation on these companies.
  • Furthermore, the treaty is regarded as playing into the hands of rich nations. In perpetuating the WTO's problems related to the widespread impression that it acts as a rich nations' cabal, this would only serve to lead to further disenchantment with global decision-making.
  • Finally, the development gains which are attributed to trade, investment and growth remain contested. Indeed, it is argued that developing countries tend to reject such treaties on the basis that it is anything but a win-win situation for the world as a whole.

2. How mindful of developing countries' needs are the US and the EU likely to have been in TTIP negotiations?

  • For the sceptics of such impressions, see bullet point 3 from question 1 above.
  • On the other hand, many continue to argue that there is a positive correlation between trade, investment and growth. Thus, it is suggested that more people have exited poverty in the last 25 years than during any other comparable period. Foreign direct investment from developed countries, it is argued, is an integral part of this success. (For a counter argument see critics of dependency theory)

3. Should civil society mobilization against TTIP be expected to alter the final agreement?

  • This question is of course related to both questions of democratic rule and also economic debates on the extent to which states should be involved in national and international market economics. Particularly with regards to the latter, it is often more conservative liberal party politics that assume a laissez-faire economic policy. These voices would be more likely to argue that economics should be both state-independent and civil-society independent.
  • Parties more towards the left are likely to argue for greater state engagement and control in terms of economics. To the extent that this trade agreement is signed by national governments with a real impact on consumer life styles – particularly with regards to nutrition policies – it may be easy to argue that democratic conduct must at the very least take civil society opinion seriously, if not accommodate its demands under such circumstances.