mardi, septembre 10, 2013

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: An opportunity not to be missed

Will the proposed transatlantic partnership harm our social model, as is sometimes argued?
It should straightaway be noted that the elimination of tariffs between Europe and the United States cannot have such consequences. The trade concerned - between countries of similar development levels - is closer to that which binds together France and Germany than to that with low-cost countries or countries practicing dumping.
In addition, its mandate already excludes the broadcasting sector and article 8 indicates that the negotiation should ensure “a high level of protection of the environment, workers and consumers, preserving the regulatory acquis of member States”.
Studies in the United Kingdom, Germany and France find that the agreement will result in 0.2 % to 0.5 % GDP growth to the horizon of a decade - more than €100 billion in annual revenue in Europe and more than 100,000 jobs in France only.


We can discuss estimates based on economic models but it is difficult to hold that such an agreement between Europe - a zone just emerging from recession (+0.3 % in the second quarter) - and the United States - a country whose growth will exceed 2 % in 2013 - will not boost opportunities for our businesses. For a cyclist who wants to accelerate without doping, there is nothing better than to ride a tandem bicycle. And the United States will eventually get a 0.5 GDP point increase over the Old Continent simply due to its demography.
But let us have a look at the content of the agreement. Its goal is not only to reduce tariffs – e.g. on French products imported into the United States - but also to simplify trade rules, in particular through a “convergence of standards”. Nowadays, for example, selling a refrigerator in the United States or in Europe requires the manufacturing of electrical cables of different lengths. Those who remember the benefits of introducing standard phone chargers will appreciate.
More generally, the agreement will offer European businesses easy access to a market representing 40 % of world trade. European SMEs will be the main beneficiaries. They will have access to the American market as easily as they access their domestic market.
In this context, the negotiation has to be addressed without naivety or paranoia. To be sure, the United States will try to exclude certain points from the talks; Europe will do the same. France already has clarified its position on the broadcasting industry.


That is why those who raise the specter of chlorine-decontaminated chicken, meat with hormones or the invasion of genetically modified organisms have misread the letter of the mandate: preservation of the EU acquis. They also forget that the final text will not be applied before a vote by the European Parliament: nothing will be decided that is not democratically validated. At a time when France suffers from rising unemployment and the gloomy outlook of low growth, it might seem tempting to play the card of national social preference - that is to say the refusal of the outside world and the search for scapegoats. National economic preference, that is to say the refusal to trade, is a poor answer to real questions. 

The transatlantic partnership project will not solve all our problems, but it is a great opportunity to support our social model if the agreement is associated with real safeguards. All these elements obviously need debate. But it would be preferable that it be informed by facts rather than by prejudice.