What Is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?

The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed comprehensive trade deal between the European Union (EU) and the United States with the aim of promoting trade and economic growth. The TTIP is a companion agreement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which the United States withdrew from in 2017. It is expected to be the biggest trade agreement ever negotiated. 

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)

The TTIP is still under negotiations. There is some controversy surrounding the agreement because the negotiations are not considered by other countries to be transparent. The objectives of the deal are to improve trade conditions between the EU and the United States to boost the countries' economies.The agreement is opposed by certain groups such as charities, NGOs, environmentalists, and unions because the agreement will reduce regulations in areas such as food safety and banking benefiting large corporations. 

Proposed Action for the TTIP 

The TPP proposes various tools to boost trade.

  • Eliminate both tariff and non-tariff barriers on goods (including agriculture, industrial and consumer products)
  • Lower trade barriers on services
  • Eliminate customs duties on digital commerce and IT (including movies, music, TV shows and video games).
  • Introduce comparable rights for investors in participating countries
  • Reduce or eliminate artificial or trade-distorting barriers
  • Enhance customs cooperation among the EU and the United States
  • Ensure equal labor rights in the EU and the United States to avoid unfair labor competition.
  • Obtain mutual agreement on environmental standards, intellectual property rights and product standards

Transparency, Uncertainty and Criticism 

The secrecy surrounding the negotiations and a lack of transparency has been the root of harsh criticism of the TTIP. In 2016, Greenpeace – an environmental activist group based in the Netherlands – leaked 248 classified pages from the negotiations. The documents revealed the negotiating positions of the United States and the EU and showed significant discrepancies in certain areas.

For example, in Europe, critics were arguing that the EU would have to lower certain standards, such as permitting imports of genetically modified food – which is illegal in the EU – to continue negotiations with the United States. The majority of America's major crops contain genetically modified organisms, and excluding these products from export markets would place a burden on American farmers and food producers. European officials flatly denied that the EU would lower its standards for a trade agreement. 

Proponents of the TTIP predict that the agreement will liberate global trade and create millions of jobs. Others consider that any positive economic effect on US and EU households will be minimal.