Employers' view

Trade Deal Makes Business Sense

ARCHIV - Das Containerschiff «Kyoto Express» der Reederei Hapag-Lloyd wird am 19.03.2012 auf dem Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) der Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) im Hamburger Hafen umgeschlagen. Der Hamburger Hafenkonzern HHLA hat 2013 mehr Waren umgeschlagen als im Vorjahr. Aber Investitionen sowie hohe Personalkosten drückten den operativen Gewinn. Foto: Christian Charisius/dpa (zu dpa «Hafenbetreiber HHLA mit Geschäftsausblick 2014» vom 27.03.2014) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Trade at Hamburg's port.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The proposed Trans-Atlantic trade deal has been attacked by some consumer groups on both sides of the Atlantic and is in serious danger of being shelved.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, would lower tariffs and duties, standardize regulations and simplify investment in Europe and the United States.
    • The deal has been criticized by groups who allege it would lead to a lowering of local hygiene and safety standards.
    • The United States is set to fast-track negotiations but European states are wary.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Germany has achieved a lot through open markets and international trade. Our exports are enormously successful and are in demand all over the world.

So it is inexplicable why a new isolationism has run rampant in this country recently. If the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership deal between Europe and the United States were to be indiscriminately rejected, it would be nothing short of isolationism.

There are already strong business ties between Germany and the United States. The country is our most important export market outside Europe and the most important investment location for our companies.

Just as significant is that Germany and the European Union share fundamental values with the United States – democracy, rule of law and human rights. Those have unfortunately not been a high priority in many other countries in the world.

The claim that TTIP will lower standards is false, no matter how many times it is repeated.

The European Union and the United States now make up about one-third of international trade, almost half of global economic output and almost two-thirds of direct investments worldwide. So far, transatlantic trade is still being significantly burdened and impaired by customs and other obstacles. It is pointless for companies to have to make two different varieties of products for Europe and the United States.

Cars on both sides of the Atlantic are very safe, yet different certification systems, differing testing methods for pollutants and variations in the colors of blinkers make life difficult for manufacturers and make the final products more expensive.

Other industries also complain, for example about things such as the different requirements for the colors of cables in electrical circuits. The grounding cable has to be green and yellow in Europe, but in the U.S. it has to be white. Emergency shutdown buttons on grinding machines must be mounted between 1.1 and 1.3 meters high in Germany; in the United States, on the other hand, they have to be between 0.9 and 1.1 meters.

 

Trans-Atlantic Trade Talks3-01 TTIP citizens view

 

Small and mid-sized companies simply cannot afford the duplicate work and added costs. Therefore we need TTIP. Because TTIP provides a chapter on implementing the agreement in a way that is friendly to mid-sized businesses.

The claim that TTIP will lower standards is false, no matter how many times it is repeated. The negotiating parties are two economic areas that have the highest environmental, consumer and labor standards in the world.

TTIP offers the opportunity to set de facto globally effective standards at a high level, which no one will easily get around. Only recently the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, got support from the European Parliament, and President Barack Obama got fast-track negotiating approval from the U.S. Congress.

I appeal to the negotiators to use that backing and to make progress this year. Because TTIP is probably the last major chance in the foreseeable future to shape international trade in transatlantic interests and to anchor democratic principles for fair and free trade.

 

To contact the author: gastautor@handelsblatt.com

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