The Transatlantic #trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which has been in negotiation since 2013, promised to cut tariffs and regulatory barriers between the EU and the #US, in order to promote trade and ultimately benefit countries in the agreement economically. However, after fourteen rounds of negotiation, the final one of which concluded in July, the deal has yet to be signed. And amidst growing opposition, some say that the deal will not be completed by the end of the year, whilst others say that it will never be. A further complication is that of #Brexit, with Britain being an important player in the TTIP negotiations.
But with the UK-EU relationship in chaos, the question should be asked as to whether Brexit will ultimately end all chances of TTIP’s success.
Brexit a 'serious blow' to TTIP
The trade agreement faces opposition most notably in Germany, France and Austria. German vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has criticised the lack of progress in TTIP talks, whilst members of his centre-left Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) have said that the deal is dead. French Prime Minister Manuel Valls also stated at the end of June that TTIP was against ‘EU interests’. Many opponents argue that TTIP will only serve the interests of multi-national corporations (MNC’s), thus promoting greater wealth disparity, whilst others say that it will undermine national sovereignty in Europe. In 2015, tens of thousands took to the streets of the Berlin in protest against the trade agreement. There is also concern that Brexit could make negotiations between the EU and the US more difficult, with the UK being the most pro-US EU member state.
Indeed, Marianne Schneider-Petsinger, a geo-economics fellow at the Royal Institute of Economic Affairs, an independent policy institute, argues that Brexit is a ‘serious blow’ to TTIP, and will severely delay negotiations. This comes as a survey commissioned by anti-TTIP lobby Uplift suggested that the Irish (Republic of Ireland) people wanted a referendum on TTIP, as 74% agreed with the statement ‘I think that Irish citizens should be allowed the right to vote in a referendum to accept or reject these trade deals’.
Framework for trade
However, supporters of TTIP have said that a bilateral trade deal between the US and the UK could persuade EU negotiators to be more flexible. Also, although the UK cannot sign any trade deals until they have left the EU, negotiations have clearly begun on the outline of possible future deals, with UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson stating that ‘Clearly, you can start to pencil things in, but you cannot ink them in’.
It is arguable that US interests in a trade agreement with the UK would be the same as those in a trade agreement with the EU, as expressed in TTIP; this means that TTIP may well act as a framework for any trade agreement between the US and the UK. The US want the deal to be completed before President Obama leaves office at the end of the year; however, the President has stated that if this fails he would like the negotiations to be handed over to Hilary Clinton, the Democratic Party presidential nominee. The US Secretary of State John Jerry has also stated that TTIP has become more important after Brexit, as he argued that it could counteract any possible negative consequences of a future trade deal between the UK and Europe.