Reply: Third countries do not benefit from TTIP

Christoffer Fjellner's claim that the TTIP free trade agreement would create growth in third countries is too good to be true. It is high time to calm the debate about TTIP's most exaggerated benefits and actually take the risks that the agreement may entail seriously, Carl Schlyter writes in a reply.

In a debate article on Bistå (12/4) Christofer Fjellner (M) writes that the free trade agreement TTIP would create increased trade, prosperity and growth not only in Sweden, but also in the rest of the world. All without any negative effects. Does that sound too good to be true? That's it, too.

It is true that TTIP is not about duties or other charges, but about getting rid of trade barriers such as import quotas, subsidies and rules. Such barriers to trade can, as Fjellner points out, consist of completely uncontroversial differences in the form of different colors of cables. However, we would hardly have had this debate about TTIP really being about the color of ground cables. According to the free trade agreement, legislation that exists in various ways to protect us would also be considered a barrier to trade. These include, according to the United States, legislation aimed at protecting personal data, the environment and ourselves from hazardous chemicals.

TTIP can endanger human safety

It is far from obvious that third countries would benefit from TTIP. The EU has been clear that mutual recognition will be the main method of removing trade barriers under the agreement. This means that instead of “adjusting” standards - ie that the contracting parties' regulations are adapted to each other - the parties recognize each other's methods to, for example, ensure that a product is safe. In order for third countries to benefit from this, a report from the European Parliament's Inquiry Unit would require that this principle also applies to exports from third countries. So far, however, the European Commission has only said that the principle should apply to the parties to the agreement. At present, therefore, it is highly unlikely that TTIP would generate either benefits for third countries or any global standards.

Many perceived barriers to trade also exist for a reason. Something that, for example, has been pointed out by the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise as an "unwise requirement" is that cars exported across the Atlantic are crash-tested on both sides of the sea. When the automotive industry itself commissioned a study to compare the equivalence of each test method, it turned out that cars tested in the EU have much higher passenger safety. The President of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) Antonio Avenoso believes that TTIP negotiators would risk their lives by mutually recognizing each other's test methods. There is thus every reason to think once more about what forms of barriers to trade can be removed without risking human safety.

Exaggerated benefits of the free trade area

Fjellner also claims that TTIP would create growth. The fact is, however, that this growth is not very large even in the most elusive scenarios. For Sweden, the most optimistic calculation in a study by the Swedish Chamber of Commerce is just under SEK 8 billion as an annual effect. In addition, it shows almost jobless growth with increased transports of equivalent goods as a result. How desirable is it?

Researchers and civil society as well as authorities warn of the consequences that TTIP may have for the climate, for the environment, and for our ability to take the lead in legislation against, for example, dangerous chemicals in the future. It is high time to calm the debate on TTIP's most exaggerated benefits and, in fact, take the risks that the agreement may entail seriously. The Green Party's goal with the free trade agreement is that only those obstacles that do not affect public health or environmental, animal and labor law can be discussed as barriers to trade.

Carl Schlyter

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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