Georgofili World

Newsletter of the Georgofili Academy

UE-US Transatrantic Trade and Investments Partnership negotiations focusing on agriculture

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (US). It was expected that the agreement would be finalized by the end of 2014, but it has been rescheduled for 2016. The topics under discussion are divided into three broad areas: Market access; Specific regulation; and broader rules and principles and modes of co-operation. Specific regulation includes an Agriculture regulation which is the focus of the present contribution.
In fact achieving foods and nutrition security today and for a world population that will number more 9 billion and be 70% urbanized by 2050 is a key global challenge. In order to resolve this problem and to tackle other relevant problems after a failure of Doha round negotiations UE and US initiated TTIP. The  main goal of TTIP is to stimulate the import and export of goods and services, by reducing trade barriers between both sides of the Atlantic . From many years ago EU-US disputed for trade agreements and agriculture policies particular accusing each other to distort economy by subsidizing agricultures sector which can interpret as protectionism. Both sides had a lot of discussion at the WTO level, and agriculture sector is still unresolved problem. Despite of failures of Doha round negotiations, it has been said that TTIP agreements is full of opportunities.
On one side, Europe is looking for greater market access for the top quality foods it produces like its wines, cheese, olive oil, high quality beef and pork-meat. On another side, the health and long term sustainability of US agriculture is increasingly dependent on access to foreign markets too, thus the TTIP negotiations present an unprecedented opportunity to eliminate import tariffs and quotas, illegitimate sanitary, phytosanitary, and technical barriers to trade and promote science-based decision making and standards, as the bases for international trade in agriculture and foods products .
The TTIP Proponents say the agreement would result in multilateral economic growth, while Critics say it would increase corporate power and make it more difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit. American Government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  On the EU side after a proposed draft was leaked in March 2014, it launched a public consultation on a limited set of clauses and in January 2015 published parts of an overview as negotiated texts. The proposed agreement is intended not only to reduce tariffs between the world economy  two biggest trading blocs. Its primary aim is to focus on a very comprehensive set of regulatory issues and rules, with a view to dismantling and harmonizing in areas such as agriculture, food safety, product and technical standards, sectorial regulations in services, the protection of intellectual property rights, and government procurement10. In addition, investment liberalization and protection will be a central issue.
According to the different reports and researches, combined agricultural and food trade between the US and the EU was $21.5 billion in 2013 and Economic gains of TTIP were predicted in the joint report issued by the White House and the European Commission. It has the potential to be much larger considering the size of the two economies. The US and the EU are primary actors in international health and food safety standard-setting bodies. Any health or food safety-related agreements reached during the course of the TTIP negotiations will have a measurable impact on these bodies. The TTIP negotiations offer an ideal vehicle to develop new trade facilitative mechanisms that reduce the risk of unnecessary loss to perishable goods and can be used as a model for future multilateral trade negotiations. On the US side, they hope to increase them market especial in the agriculture sector: US wants to scandalized agriculture sector through scientific methods, while EU want wants to preserve this sector through precaution principle. A big problem is from the use of Genetic Modified Organisms. US assert that there is no reason to bind its products while EU does not what. Despite of some skeptics a joint commission assessed that both countries will win in this deal. Despite of positive prediction from experts, according to some studies of friends of earth organization asserted that “this talk could have negative impact on foods and farming on both sides of Atlantic and they asserted also that Industrial agriculture, driven by powerful corporate actors, threatens the natural resources on which our life depends and undermines farmer and rural livelihoods all over the world therefore, they went on that any rules and agreements that keep this broken food system in place threaten progress on key issues such as loss of soil fertility, diminishing biodiversity, fresh water scarcity, contamination of food and water with fertilizers, manure, and adaptation to climate change . Furthermore, some critics asserted that TTIP negotiations happen behind closed doors thus the public and civil society groups do not have access to negotiation texts ahead of the negotiations. Public policy stakeholders have differing views on the TTIP on multiple fronts, including the following:
Economic impact: Supporters of the TTIP view the agreement as an opportunity to boost transatlantic economic growth and jobs by eliminating or reducing costly tariff and nontariff barriers, which they find compelling given the slow economic growth in both the United States and EU and the size of the US-EU economic relationship. Trade skeptics, however, assert that trade liberalization can lead to an inequitable distribution of costs and benefits, including import competition for specific US economic sectors and adverse employment effects.
Impact on transatlantic relationship: On one hand, the TTIP’s successful conclusion could reinforce the U.S. commitment to Europe in general and especially to the EU’s role as a critical US partner in the international community. Some see this as key, given concerns that the Obama Administration’s “rebalancing” toward the Asia-Pacific region may reflect a decline in the relative importance of the transatlantic relationship, though administration officials have rejected this view. For some, the political turmoil in Ukraine reinforces the need for enhanced cooperation between the United States and EU, including through the TTIP negotiations. On the other hand, should the negotiations stall or produce results not seen as sufficiently ambitious, further questions could be raised about the strength of the transatlantic relationship. 
Impact on multilateral trade liberalization: Supporters argue that the TTIP could allow the two sides to advance rules-based trade liberalization in the absence of progress in the World Trade Organization (WTO). They also assert that possible US-EU consensus on controversial issues such as agriculture could help to break the impasse on remaining issues in the WTO Doha Round. Others contend that focus on regional and bilateral free trade agreement(FTA) detracts from trade liberalization efforts through the WTO.
Other policy implications: Supporters contend that the TTIP could enhance US and EU cooperation in establishing rules and disciplines that address challenges associated with Critics express concern that globally-relevant rules developed in the TTIP may adversely affect civil society, consumer, Internet freedom, public health, and other interests. Critics also express concern that the TTIP could infringe on US sovereignty, including the ability to regulate health, labor, and environmental standards.
Anyway according to the specialists and analysts TTIP agreement will try to establish greater regulatory compatibility and mutual recognition of certain standards, thus it’s seen an excellent chance for the European Union, to deal with sustainable growth, spur on investment and share best practices as it is on the US side too, but some skeptics speculated that they should be winners and looser of this agreement.
While there may be legitimate reasons for and benefits from regulatory coherence between the US and EU, those discussions of public rules need to happen under conditions of full transparency.
The TTIP negotiations should result in an agreement that prohibits—rather than promotes—efforts by corporations to play off regulatory standards in one jurisdiction against the other. Those dialogues should hold open the possibility that the best avenues for progress could be outside the constraints of trade rules, as happened with the US -EU agreement on organic standards.
US and EU have waged epic trade battles over hormone-treated beef, chlorine-rinsed chicken and genetically modified organisms, among others things thus what one side views as a legitimate health concern, the other tends to see as a trade barrier. EU and US government should give priority  to the interests of people and the environment thus they should not pursue transatlantic trade negotiations that compromise safety, or environmental well-being.