TAFTA: Studies Project Tiny Economic Gains, Ignore Major Costs from Gutting Environmental, Health, Financial and Other Safeguards
By Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
The safety standards on which we rely daily for our food, medicines and cars. The energy and climate policies needed to save our planet. The new financial regulations designed to prevent banks from gambling with our money and creating another crisis. These are policies that should be determined in open, democratic venues where we have a say. But a group of the largest U.S. and European banks and corporations want to rewrite these safeguards behindclosed doors. For over a decade, they have pushed for a new U.S. “trade” deal with Europe – the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), which corporate proponents have tried to rebrand as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – a deal that would roll back consumer protections on both sides of the Atlantic. A“trade” deal only in name, TAFTA would require the United States and European Union (EU) to conform domestic financial laws and regulations, climate policies, food and product safety standards, data privacy protections and other non-trade policies to TAFTA rules. EU and U.S. negotiators launched TAFTA negotiations in July 2013 and plan to finish the sweeping deal by next year.
To sell such a dramatic rewrite of domestic safeguards to U.S. and EU policymakers and the general public, corporate lobby groups and TAFTA negotiators contend that the deal would bring economic benefits. TAFTA’scorporate proponents repeatedly point to a few theoretical studies to justify claims of increased national income resulting from the deal. These studies use many dubious assumptions, questioned by economists at institutions such as the UN, to project TAFTA’s economic impact. Similar studies, when used for prior pacts, have produced vastly inaccurate predictions of gains. But even if one accepts all such assumptions regardless of their basis in reality, the studies project negligible economic “benefits” from TAFTA. Meanwhile, they ignore TAFTA’s likely costs to consumers, workers and the environment, despite the abundant evidence of such costs resulting from prior pacts.