Trans-Atlantische handel voor iedereen

WASHINGTON, DC – De onderhandelingen om een ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’(TTIP) tussen de Europese Unie en de Verenigde Staten op te richten worden breed verwelkomd. De Britse premier David Cameron noemt de TTIP een ‘once in a generation prize’ en wijst op de potentiele winst van 80 miljard pond (125,5 miljard dollar) voor zowel de EU en de VS en 85 miljard pond voor de rest van de wereld.

Voor een wereld die moe is van het wachten op het besluiten van de oneindige Doha-ronde van de Wereld Handels Organisatie, is zelfs een bilateraal handelsinitiatief een zegen, vooral als, zoals een recent opiniestuk in de Financial Times benadrukte, bilateraal de helft van de wereldeconomie betekent. Maar er is een ernstige negatieve kant: de overeenkomst zou de export uit ontwikkelingslanden kunnen treffen, tenzij de EU en de VS een gezamenlijke inspanning doen om de belangen van deze actoren te beschermen.

Het kenmerk van het voorgestelde pact dat het meeste opwinding teweeg brengt (de nadruk op gereguleerde barrières zoals verplichte productstandaarden) zou eigenlijk de meeste zorg moeten veroorzaken. Gegeven de lage tarieven in de EU en de VS (gemiddeld minder dan 5%) zullen verdere preferentiële verlagingen buitenstaanders niet ernstig raken. Maar als het op standaarden aankomt (zoals het overzien van veiligheid, gezondheid en het milieu) zijn de toegangseisen voor de markt wreed en tweeledig: of je voldoet aan de ingestelde standaard of je verkoopt niets.

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