Independent.ie | 21 March 2022
Germany wants TTIP free trade deal between EU and US back on the agenda
by Donal O’Donovan
Germany’s finance minister has put the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal between the US and European Union back on the agenda.
Christian Lindner called for fresh talks on the free trade agreement in an interview published in Gernany’s Handelsblatt newspaper yesterday. Its the latest sign of how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has revived and tightened what had become looser ties between Western democracies.
TTIP has been on ice since 2016 in large part because of the election of then US president Donald Trump on an “America First” platform of opposition to free trade.
But it was controversial in Europe too, including in Ireland where issues like the access of US food producers to domestic markets raised fears for food standards and farm prices.
Across Europe many politicians had warned they will reject any version of TTIP that includes a controversial investor protection mechanism, known as Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).
The clause would allow for disputes between corporations and governments to be decided outside the jurisdiction of national courts.
Advocates say it’s a necessary condition to bridge an agreement spanning different legal systems, opponents see it as an erosion of the power of individual states to impose strictures on big business or to enforce laws, such as on labour standards or environmental conditions.
TTIP is primarily an agreement to cut tariffs and regulatory barriers to trade between the US and EU countries.
In 2015 Ibec’s Danny McCoy estimated an agreement could boost Irish gross domestic product by around 2pc – twice as big as the EU average – and research suggested a comprehensive trade agreement with the US would create up to 10,000 extra jobs.
"We should resume negotiations on a transatlantic free trade agreement. Especially now in the (Ukraine) crisis, it is becoming clear how important free trade is with partners around the world who share our values," Mr Lindner – the finance minister of Europe’s largest economy – told Handelsblatt.
It is unclear to what extent there is support for such talks in Europe. Some officials have spoken in favour of a resumption, while others have been more cautious.
Germany’s finance ministry didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.