Tag Archives: free trade

Opinion: TTIP and the inversion of the Free Trade debate

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership provides an interesting case study as to how the very meaning of ‘Free Trade’ is changing. The treaty itself is on the rocks with increasing opposition from France and Germany alongside a powerful combination of unions and anti-globalisation advocacy groups. Nothing about that is particularly unusual but a crucial difference is the arguments these groups are making. For the first time they are talking about consumers.

Traditionally trade deals meant hitting producers to help consumers with the abolition of tariffs, subsidies and protectionist legislation. Although there is an element of this in the TTIP the majority of it is actually about the harmonization of consumer standards and it is this which flips the traditional free trade debate so firmly on its head.

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TTIP — the US-EU trade deal. What is it, and where is it up to?

Container Ship tradeAt last year’s autumn conference, the Lib Dems pledged to support a new trade agreement between the European Union and the United States — known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The motion, ‘Strengthening the UK Economy’ (pdf), called on the coalition to:

Increase trading opportunities by working in the EU to ensure that the success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, doing everything possible to revive the World Trade Organisation led Doha Development Round and further integrating the EU services market.

Since then there has been significant …

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Clegg pushes for transatlantic trade deal

Container Ship tradeWhen, just over a week ago, conference overwhelmingly backed motion F19, “Strengthening the UK Economy” (pdf), it voted for our party to lead the way on free trade, thanks to the following addition (in which I played a small role), which was “drafted into” the motion:

8. Increase trading opportunities by working in the EU to ensure that the success of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, doing everything possible to revive the World Trade Organisation led Doha Development Round and further integrating the EU services market.

The party’s leadership …

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Opinion: TTIP – whose freedom will it promote?

Few things press Liberal Democrat buttons like the promise of free (or freer) trade. So, London MEP Baroness Sarah Ludford’s recent post for LDV noting that the European Parliament has just given the go-ahead for negotiations towards the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP, a.k.a. TAFTA), a free trade treaty that will be the biggest in history, was generally welcomed in comments.

But what exactly is proposed? Tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic are already low – averaging only about 4% – so the possible gains from further reductions are modest. A quick root around …

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Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP writes…An EU-US trade deal would be good for Europe and for Britain

Today the European Parliament gave the go-ahead to negotiations for an ambitious comprehensive EU-US ‘transatlantic trade and investment partnership’ agreement – or T-TIP in the jargon. The EU and US combined account for over half the global economy, making this by far the biggest free-trade agreement in history. Existing protectionist restrictions in America as well as in Europe mean that the full potential of our economic relationship is not realised. While the abolition of remaining tariffs on goods will bring worthwhile gains, the greatest benefits will be in removal of non-tariff barriers to achieve a much more integrated transatlantic marketplace.

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Can a global trade deal be rescued?

Container ShipCongratulations to Roberto Azevedo, who, it has just been announced, will take over from Pascal Lamy as the head of the World Trade Organisation later this year. Azevedo, a Brazilian diplomat, beat off Herminio Blanco, a former Mexican finance minister who had the backing of many developed countries.

The most obvious and pressing task facing Azevedo is to rescue the so-called Doha Round of world trade talks, which stalled in 2008 and have made little progress since.

In the absence of global progress, a number of bilateral trade talks have sprung up, most recently …

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Lib Dems should lead the European push for a US trade deal

President Obama’s public statement in favour of a US-EU trade agreement should be welcomed by all liberals. Free trade is a cause with a long and proud liberal history, and such a deal has the potential to increase prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.

There will be some countries in the EU less keen on such a deal than others: our French neighbours being the most obvious example. Many countries in the EU have a vested interest in not creating a truly free market within the EU, never mind across the pond. Agriculture has long been a major impediment …

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Putting the party’s message in a distinctively liberal context – Part 2: the economy

This is the second of three posts looking at the party’s messaging. The first was published here yesterday; the last and final post will appear tomorrow.

The first half of our message emphasises economic competence: bringing back (as David Laws once put it) Gladstonian Liberalism to the Treasury and setting us up to be competitive in a fast-changing, globalised economy.

So far, much of the focus has been on our willingness to take “tough decisions”. Here, for example, is David Laws speaking to the Independent recently: “in the past people have known we stood for a fairer society but have …

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Opinion: for a market to be free you must have regulation

Whenever I utter the phrase ‘free trade’ within those Liberal Democrat circles in which I am permitted to mix, the reaction is akin to that which I might get if I suggested making it compulsory for all party members to worship statues of me.

And that’s a pity (the reaction to the free trade, not the statues) because most people when they meet an advocate of free trade, mutter darkly about the effects of ‘light touch regulation’. But free trade and light touch regulation are not the same, indeed in many ways they are inimical to each other.

The debate should not …

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The Independent View: Poverty can and must be made history

Ten million people bought Make Poverty History campaign armbands in 2005. Some would hold that voters give development issues a low priority. But those armbands showed that a lot of voters care.

More and better aid, debt relief and trade justice were the demands of campaigners. Five years later, how is the government doing? Brilliantly if you fall for Labour’s spin. Mediocre if you analyse the facts.

An OECD report says that Britain is expected to devote 0.56% of national income to development aid this year. That hides a few things. The government arrives at this figure by including …

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Opinion: Ebay – Europe is the Politics that Counts

Internet firm Ebay are sending out an email, which I reproduce below, to its registered users, calling on people to sign a petition to support liberal trade and prevent luxury brand manufacturers restricting free trade in their product.

ebay petition

It is an obvious example of the importance of European Union law. It also reminds us how EU jurisdiction in trade law is logical. It is far better for consumers and companies in the 27 states to know that a common set of (economically liberal) laws apply across Europe than …

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Opinion: Gin-swigging Geldof joins chorus of calls for free trade

A BBC chin-wag with Bob Geldof was a predictable part of the G20 coverage, and culminated perhaps equally predictably, with ‘Sir Bob’ confessing that he’d been knocking back gin. He then peevishly crushed a plastic up and chucked it on the ground.

Sounds like my kind of evening.

Nonetheless, some of his sentiments, if not so predictable, were especially pertinent. On the importance of trade, he said:

Look, probably the great unsung triumph so far of the twenty-first century was the lifting of 400 million Chinese people out of extreme poverty—through trade.”

Furthermore, he urged governments to stop erecting …

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  • User AvatarGlenn 22nd Dec - 5:17pm
    To be honest, I kind of agree with May . Students are here to study not to be given a right to citizenship or get...
  • User AvatarJames 22nd Dec - 5:03pm
    UKIP's intervention in British electoral politics has changed the way this debate is addressed, and not for the better. As the global economy integrates and...
  • User AvatarPaul Tyler 22nd Dec - 4:55pm
    Thanks for all the comments here. Tony and John Tilley’s exchange may well reflect their frustration at how difficult it is to get anyone in...
  • User Avatarmalc 22nd Dec - 4:52pm
    RC "I’m not afraid of standing up for the Lib Dems against their detractors because they are mostly ill informed. QED" Most polls have the...
  • User AvatarNick Collins 22nd Dec - 4:15pm
    @ RC The LibDems did not promise to deliver a policy re tuition fees. Most of their candidates signed a pledge, if elected, to vote...
  • User Avatarmatt (Bristol) 22nd Dec - 4:13pm
    Wot, Richard, all those past female leaders of the Liberals, SDP and LibDems? Well, I hate to disappoint you, but...
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