The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a comprehensive trade deal between the European Union and the United States, with the aim to promote trade and boost economic growth.
If the partnership is finalized, it will open a market among over 800 million consumers and become the biggest trade agreement ever negotiated. The negotiations by the European Commission and the Executive Branch in the U.S. are ongoing, and few specifics about the deal have been made public, aside from the general objectives. The agreement was set to be finalized in 2014, but is now estimated to take until 2019-2020, which means the next President of the United States will inherit the negotiations.
- Eliminate both tariff and non-tariff barriers on goods (including agriculture, industrial and consumer products, etc.).
- Lower trade barriers on services
- Eliminate customs duties on digital commerce and IT (including movies, music, TV shows, video games etc.).
- Comparable rights for U.S. investors in the EU and vice versa.
- Reduce or eliminate artificial or trade-distorting barriers.
- Enhance customs cooperation between the U.S. and the EU.
- Ensure equal labor rights in the U.S. and the EU in order to avoid unfair labor competition.
- Obtain mutual agreement on environmental standards, intellectual property rights and product standards.
Transparency, Uncertainty and Criticism
The secrecy surrounding the negotiations and lack of transparency has been the root of harsh criticism against the TTIP from both American and European sides. In 2016, Greenpeace – an environmental activist group based in the Netherlands – leaked 248 classified pages from the negotiations. The documents revealed the negotiating positions of the two parties and showed big discrepancies in certain areas.
For example, in Europe critics were arguing that the EU would have to lower certain standards, such as allowing genetically modified food – which is illegal in the EU – in order to reach an agreement with the U.S. The majority of America’s major crops contain genetically modified organisms, and outlawing those could place a burden on American farmers and food producers. European officials flatly denied that the EU would lower its standards for a trade agreement. American critics were more worried about having to comply with strict EU regulations and with European corporations taking over American business.