The Second World War of 1939 to 1945 marked a watershed in world’s economic integration. When the war was over, many global economic instituitions were created at its wake. Also, the transnational corporations (TNCs) have begun to emerge as major actors in international economic relations since that time.’ (Ravenhill, 2011) However, people have in fact overlooked the disadvantages of the economic integration where the TNCs play an influential role because of the seeming benefits it has brought.
Over the century, people have witnessed numerous global/regional economic institutions being set up and between these institutions countless trade agreements have been proposed and signed. The bombardment of these agreements is indeed overwhelming, yet the details within these agreements are not to be neglected.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, also known as TTIP, is a proposed trade agreement between the EU and the US which is due to sign at the end of this year. A series of negotiations concerning the terms of this agreement has been made clandestinely, so the public would not know what it actually involves. But according to leaked materials, it would reduce the regulatory barriers to trade for big businesses. And once the agreement is signed, it would affect the signatory citizens’ lives, especially the EU citizens, in many ways.
First of all is the problem of food safety in the EU countries. The US standards on food safety is very different from those of the EU. For instance, the US allows the sales of Genetically-modified foods (GM foods) and foods with growth hormones whereas the EU countries act otherwise. Also, the US has a laxer regulation on the use of pesticides than the EU countries. The EU citizens may now have easy access to trustworthy organic foods from local supermarkets, but once the TTIP is signed, the EU standards would gradually align with those of the US, of which time the EU citizens may only be able to buy organic foods from the Whole Foods Markets.
Second of all is the potential increase of unemployment as well as downgrading of workers rights. Compare to the EU countries, the US recognizes fewer workers rights than the EU countries, so after the signing of the agreement, the EU workers may lose their bargaining power when fighting for their rights to employers. Also, the agreement is likely to bring about an increase of unemployment due to fierce competitions from the US workers.
There are some other aspects of this agreement that are yet to be mentioned, employment and food safety are brought out specifically bacause they affect the EU citizens most in terms of daily lives. While TTIP would surely affect peoples’ lives, the EU and the US are negotiating it behind the curtains, and more importantly, with TNCs’ active participation. The TNCs have everything to gain whereas the EU citizens have little to gain but much to lose. It is time for people to think and question the global economic integration – global economic integration is inevitable, but to sort out ways to improve the transparency of those negotiation talks and avoid the TNCs dominating the talks are also necessary. It is time for people to be aware of the current situation of global economic integration.
John Ravenhill (2011), Global Political Economy (OUP 3rd edition), pp. 3 – 19
Lee Williams, What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you. The Independent. [online] 7 October 2014. Available at:http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html [Accessed 20 November 2014]
EU and US to hold second round of trade negotiations (TTIP) in Brussels on 11-15 November. Delegation of the EU to the US. [online] Available at: http://www.euintheus.org/press-media/eu-and-us-to-hold-second-round-of-trade-negotiations-ttip-in-brussels-on-11-15-november/ [Accessed 20 November 2014]
What is the problem? . Stop TTIP. [online] Available at: https://stop-ttip.org/what-is-the-problem-ttip-ceta/ [Accessed 19 November 2014]