Transatlantic Trade Negotiation Roadmap

October 23, 2013

The potential upside of a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement to liberalize trade, investment and regulatory barriers between the United States and the European Union is substantial. The economic benefits are estimated to be in the range of a $125 billion annual boost to gross domestic product on each side of the Atlantic. Realistically, the benefits will depend on whether the enthusiastic rhetorical commitments to achieving a comprehensive agreement are matched by actual accomplishments on the ground. The ambitious agreement will require a resolution of differences in dozens of areas, says Daniel Ikenson, director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute.

In the interest of avoiding that fate, Ikenson suggests a procedural roadmap for managing the negotiations in an orderly, constructive, politically digestible manner.

  • Negotiators identify and announce a discrete set of specific, achievable goals with realistic deadlines;
  • The negotiations over regulatory processes and regulatory standards be better defined and made more manageable by employing a "negative list" approach, where issues deemed "off limits" to negotiation are specified at the outset so that they do not obscure what is achievable;
  • The negotiators abandon the single undertaking principle and, instead, aim to produce three successive biennial agreements by harvesting the lowest hanging fruit once every two years.

Stakeholders will have to keep politicians and negotiators accountable to their goals and timetables. But too daunting an enterprise will render success elusive and cause negotiators to lose focus, interest and, ultimately, the opportunity to achieve meaningful reforms. The TTIP negotiations must not be permitted to devolve into a decade-long, transatlantic cocktail party for negotiators, advisers and lobbyists.

Source: Daniel J. Ikenson, "The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: A Roadmap for Success," Cato Institute, October 14, 2013.

 

Browse more articles on Economic Issues