trade pact

Let's Shape Globalization Together

Tausende Menschen nehmen am 17.09.2016 an der Demonstration gegen die Handelsabkommen Ceta und TTIP in Berlin teil. Ein Bündnis aus Gewerkschaften und Sozialverbänden hat zu zeitgleichen Demonstrationen in sieben deutschen Städten aufgerufen. Foto: Jörg Carstensen/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Thousands of people demonstrated against the trade pacts but they stand in the way of a historic opportunity, according to proponents.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • The anti-TTIP movement grew in Germany because supporters of free trade allowed opponents to shape the debate.
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  • Facts

    Facts

    • Proponents of TTIP never expected the public to become seriously interested in the agreement.
    • Analysis shows that a minority of top speakers at information events supported the agreement, and that organizers were often explicitly anti-TTIP.
    • Public opposition to free trade is often down to the concept being misunderstood.
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    Audio

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The negotiations with the United States need to move more quickly.

The European Commission’s transparency offensive is helping deflect criticism of factual arguments almost everywhere in the European Union. It has succeeded in convincing the majority of citizens in all but four E.U. member states. Unfortunately, Germany is one of the exceptions.

The lack of sufficient openness and transparency at the beginning of the negotiations unnecessarily provided opponents with points of attack, enabling them to weave myths and conspiracy theories that continue to feed the anti-TTIP campaign to this day. Lawmakers and the business community allowed the debate to rage much too long because many assumed that TTIP, like all previous free-trade agreements, would only interest experts and not the public.

Part of the problem is that free trade supporters didn’t campaign hard enough, allowing opponents to shape opinion, and to lead it. An analysis of the anti-TTIP campaign by the ECIPE Institute in Brussels has shown that of the 50 top speakers at information events, only a dozen supported the agreement. The majority of events were sponsored by parties like the Green Party and the Left Party that explicitly spoke against TTIP. Proponents and businesses didn’t do enough to counter these strong campaigns and strong arguments by anti-globalization activitists.

Facts can refute slogans like “TTIP kills, stop TTIP.” The actual significance of free trade is the complete opposite of what opponents are saying. Free trade does not stand for unregulated machinations by a couple of large corporations, but for rules that create a reliable framework that gives all economic players – from companies to consumers – the same confidence to establish foreign partnerships or buy foreign products.

The United States is Germany’s most important foreign trade partner, with France in second place. Our growth in exports is of special importance to all of Europe, greatly benefiting the auto industry, machine building and the chemical, pharmaceutical and food industries. Millions of jobs are secured worldwide through our successes.

Standards are only set from a position of economic strength, and either we set those standards or we allow others to do it. In the wake of the Brexit vote, this is precisely the time to take advantage of the opportunity for Europe, and to prove that Europe can and will actively shape globalization and establish standards worldwide.

 

To contact the author: gastautor@handelsblatt.com

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