The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): The Sluggish State of Negotiations

20-10-2015

Ten rounds of negotiations on the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) over the past two years have produced scant results. Since the talks were launched – with high expectations – in June 2013, negotiators have shied away from addressing real substance or tackling difficult issues. The political objectives of the EU mandate and those expressed by the European Parliament in its recent resolution on the TTIP, as well as the US Congress's objectives as specified in the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) Act, have been clear: all recommend eliminating tariffs and dismantling non-tariff barriers to further liberalise transatlantic markets and promote higher rates of growth and job creation. In early October 2015, the negotiating parties finally presented upgraded proposals on how to eliminate tariffs. They will also need to present offers on access to public procurement markets and begin discussions on the new Investment Court System (ICS), as proposed by Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on 16 September 2015. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the other major trade agreement that had occupied US negotiators (to a greater extent, in fact, than the TTIP), was agreed on 5 October 2015. If TTIP negotiations are to close before US President Barack Obama leaves office – disrupting the negotiating process and possibly ushering in a less trade-friendly president – the process will have to be considerably speeded up.

Ten rounds of negotiations on the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) over the past two years have produced scant results. Since the talks were launched – with high expectations – in June 2013, negotiators have shied away from addressing real substance or tackling difficult issues. The political objectives of the EU mandate and those expressed by the European Parliament in its recent resolution on the TTIP, as well as the US Congress's objectives as specified in the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) Act, have been clear: all recommend eliminating tariffs and dismantling non-tariff barriers to further liberalise transatlantic markets and promote higher rates of growth and job creation. In early October 2015, the negotiating parties finally presented upgraded proposals on how to eliminate tariffs. They will also need to present offers on access to public procurement markets and begin discussions on the new Investment Court System (ICS), as proposed by Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström on 16 September 2015. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the other major trade agreement that had occupied US negotiators (to a greater extent, in fact, than the TTIP), was agreed on 5 October 2015. If TTIP negotiations are to close before US President Barack Obama leaves office – disrupting the negotiating process and possibly ushering in a less trade-friendly president – the process will have to be considerably speeded up.