赵晨:Ambition up in the Air

——Public animosity hinders American-EU deal
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赵晨(社科院)  

  

   Demonstrators hold anti-Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership banners during a rally against the proposed U.S.-EU free trade pact in Berlin on October 10, 2015 (XINHUA)

  

   During his visit to Europe in April, U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed in Hannover for the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to be concluded this year. The TTIP is a proposed free trade agreement between the United States and the EU. Initiated in 2013, it aims to reduce trade barriers and homogenize regulations in member economies in a bid to promote economic growth and establish new international trade rules and standards.

  

   However, just before Obama's arrival in Europe, a number of German social groups organized a mass demonstration, in which 90,000 people protested against the TTIP. Support of the deal in Germany has also fallen from 55 percent two years ago to 17 percent now, according to a recent poll by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the largest private non-profit foundation in Germany.

  

   On May 2, the international environmental group Greenpeace leaked a 248-page document from the secret TTIP negotiations. It showed that U.S. negotiators had made tough demands in areas including market access, genetically modified food, public procurement, cultural products and regulatory policy. Washington's stance has aroused great discontent amongst the European public.

  

   In response, French President Françoise Hollande said on May 3 that France would not accept any treaty that may damage the country's cultural and agricultural sectors.

  

   Against this increasingly hostile backdrop, the chance of TTIP negotiations being concluded at all, let alone by the end of this year, has been notably reduced.

  

   A broad alliance

  

   The TTIP is based on two major objectives. Economically, both sides hope to increase bilateral trade and provide economic stimulus through tariff reductions and the removal of non-tariff barriers. In a report presented to the European Commission in March 2013, the Center for Economic Policy Research, a London-based think tank, stated that if these two aims were achieved upon the completion of the TTIP, the annual growth of EU and U.S. economies would increase 0.4-0.5 percent.

  

   The report claimed that an ambitious and comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement could bring significant economic gains as a whole for the EU (119 billion euros or $135 billion a year) and the United States (95 billion euros or $108 billion a year). For a family of four in the EU or the United States, this translates into an extra 545 euros ($617) or 655 euros ($741) of disposable income per year, respectively.

  

   The output value of the service industry, which has not been fully liberalized on both sides of the Atlantic, accounts for 20 percent of the combined GDP of the United States and the EU, higher than the total of agriculture and manufacturing. Some experts estimate that if service-related trade barriers were completely removed, the benefit created would be equivalent to the free movement of goods over the last 50 years brought about by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as well as the World Trade Organization (WTO).

  

   Politically, by setting new international trade and investment rules, the United States and the EU could consolidate their dominant status in global governance. Since the financial crisis of 2008, their economic strength has been in relative decline, while the momentum of emerging economies continues to grow. This has encouraged the two leading economies toward further integration.

  

   The report Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, published by the U.S. National Intelligence Council in 2012, predicted that Asia's weight in the global economy would surpass North America and Europe's in 2030. These slumping giants therefore need each other to prop up their economies in the future.

  

   Through negotiating the TTIP, the United States and the EU aim to take advantage of their own vast markets to continue monopolizing the setting of international trade rules and standards, and to maintain their position of superiority in the new global economic order. In the process, they manifest apprehension over the rise of emerging economies, spearheaded by China. Thus, a major political purpose of the TTIP is to contain this rise and entrench their status as rule-makers rather than rule-takers.

  

   European critiques

  

Despite the TTIP receiving the endorsement of political elites, skepticism over the deal has been growing amongst the European public.(点击此处阅读下一页)

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