Trans-Pacific trade deal set to clear path for TTIP agreement

MEPs warn EU competitiveness is at risk unless similar EU-US deal is concluded.

By William Louch

06 Oct 2015

The United States, Japan and 10 other Pacific Rim countries have announced the successful conclusion of negotiations on a trans-Pacific partnership deal.

The agreement - believed to be the largest trade deal for more than 20 years - will cover around covering 40 per cent of the global economy. It also signifies the first ever bilateral trade agreement between two of the world's largest economies, Japan and the United States.  

The trans-Pacific partnership agreement or TPP includes several controversial elements such as the contentious investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) and a ban on hindering the free flow of data across borders.


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ISDS has proved a sticking point throughout trans-Atlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the EU and US, and is likely to be replaced by the allegedly more transparent investment court system following concerns over private companies suing governments.

The deal is expected to add further pressure on EU negotiators to conclude talks with Washington before US President Barack Obama's presidential term finishes in 2017.

MEPs from the European Parliament's main political groupings welcomed the news, with many arguing that the TPP deal should act as a spur to complete the TTIP negotiations.

Bernd Lange, chair of the Parliament's international trade committee, said, "I welcome the conclusion of the trans-Pacific partnership agreement, which has the potential to contribute to strengthening rule-based global trade."

He added, "the deal clears the path for changing gears in the transatlantic negotiations. Now is the time to move forward with TTIP."

British European Conservatives and Reformist group deputy Emma McClarkin said, "Studies point to the fact that the EU would need to complete a comprehensive TTIP in order to catch up with Asia and the US following completion of TPP."

The trade committee member added, "It is imperative that the EU now takes this chance and doesn't fall behind other parts of the world."

Dutch trade committee member, Marietje Schaake, from the parliament's Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE) grouping, also praised the deal saying, "I am glad that the trans-Pacific partnership, which had been in its final stages for a very long time, is now concluded."

Schaake warned that EU negotiators needed to move forward on TTIP otherwise, "other countries will set their own standards."

This sentiment was echoed by the leader of the ALDE group, Guy Verhofstadt who tweeted that the "Pacific trade deal highlights need for TTIP, to remain global player and protect our standards."

Jude Kirton Darling, a member of Parliament's centre-left Socialists and Democrats grouping, called on Washington to now focus all its attentions on concluding TTIP saying, "US negotiators have used the ongoing TPP talks as an excuse for not engaging wholeheartedly in the negotiations. With TPP now seemingly finalised, we expect their attention to turn to TTIP."

Kirton Darling was less unequivocal in her praise for the deal urging the EU steer clear of using TPP as "a template for our own negotiations", and specifically drew attention to the divisive ISDS mechanism contained in the TPP agreement, saying "[we] have made it clear that this will not be accepted in any future TTIP agreement."

However, McClarkin said she saw no reason for concern over investor-state issues or over the alleged secrecy of the negotiations, arguing that, "the EU is setting a gold standard in TTIP on transparency…we live in a world now where the public expect the right to know more about what's going on in trade negotiations. The European Commission has recognised this and made progress with its transparency."

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