Unimpressed, UK's Parliamentary Committee For Business Calls For 'Evidence-Based Approach' To TAFTA/TTIP

from the making-astrology-look-respectable dept

Given the magnitude of the effect that TAFTA/TTIP could have on the economies and daily life of both the US and EU, it is surprising that there has not been more analysis of its likely impact. In particular, you would have thought that the governments who favor it would have made great efforts to deploy plenty of evidence supporting the agreement. Instead, the European Commission simply repeats the same set of figures from the 2013 analysis that it commissioned from the London-based CEPR group (pdf), while the US side seems to think even one study is one too many.

Analyses from the public's political representatives are also surprisingly thin on the ground. That makes a new report from one of the UK Parliament's specialist committees, which are made up of current MPs, particularly welcome. It comes from the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee, so you might expect it to be really upbeat about the TTIP negotiations. Instead, it is pretty unimpressed by the debate so far:

The BIS Committee finds that while a lack of detail on negotiations makes it difficult to assess the benefits of TTIP, all involved in the debate -- campaigners, lobbyists, business groups, the UK Government and the European Commission -- must ensure they take an evidence-based approach when assessing TTIP’s potential.
The report focuses on two main areas: TTIP's economic benefits and the corporate sovereignty provisions, also known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). As it notes, the main figures used time and again in support of the trade deal come from the European Commission's CEPR report. Leaving aside its many debatable assumptions, one key fact that has emerged is that the core prediction for the best-case scenario -- US and EU economies to grow by 0.4% and 0.5% respectively as a result of TTIP -- refers to cumulative growth by 2027, and therefore amounts to around 0.05% extra GDP per year, on average. Regarding this fact, the economist Dean Baker wrote: "As growth policy, this trade deal doesn't pass the laugh test." On this issue, the Committee commented:
When we challenged the [UK Trade] Minister on the accuracy of the estimated benefits of TTIP, he appeared to agree that they should not be taken as fact. In doing so he quoted JK Galbraith, who said that the only purpose of economic forecasts was to make astrology look respectable.
The Committee was equally unimpressed with the arguments in favor of including a corporate sovereignty chapter:
We have yet to be convinced of the need for ISDS provisions in TTIP. The UK Government and the EU must demonstrate that the advanced legal institutions of the EU and the US cannot protect foreign investors before any ISDS is considered in the TTIP.
Again, coming from a naturally pro-business Parliamentary Committee, that's a pretty damning comment. It shows just how much work the US and EU governments need to do in order to convince people -- even those favorably inclined to the idea -- that TAFTA/TTIP is worth bothering with at all.

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  • identicon
    Mr Big Content, 26 Mar 2015 @ 1:19am

    Evidence Is Unfair And Unbalanced

    Evidence always favors one side of the debate more than the other. That makes it biased, and therefore untrustworthy. To be unbiased, you must take a common-sense approach rather than blindly believing so-called "evidence".

    Remember, reality has an agenda.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 3:07am

      Re: Evidence Is Unfair And Unbalanced

      That is some lovely satire! Particularly on the dichotomy journalism, the separation of evidence and common sense as well as the zeal and belief perseverence in modern debates.

      Now, as far as evidence in terms of trade agreements, the value is impossible to assess since it relies on the not yet finished agreement... Therefore the guesstimate from CEPR has to be seen as either a "best case analysis" or a "qualified guess". Thus it isn't even close to evidence. Even if the analysis was made on the finished deal, or a first release candidate, the numbers would merely be predictions as opposed to guess before the agreement is implemented.

      If you want any kind of evidence - and be aware that evidence even in this context is extremely dependent on correct delineations and thus difficult to generalize - it has to be a post facto analysis after the market stabilizes on the new rules. Or in short: The agenda of reality is thus always a question of the beholder and relies on lack of satisfactory evidence to even exist. I am aware of the general mocking of republicans as rejecting reality and the republicans are certainly doing their best to keep that myth alive. However, reality is always more grey than black and white.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:49am

        Re: Re: Evidence Is Unfair And Unbalanced

        How is a loss of future profits anyone's fault other than that of the whining corporation making said claim?

        If this is really about encouraging investment in foreign countries, which I doubt it is, then maybe there are better ways of moving toward that goal.

        Large profits were typically linked to large risk, seems they want to keep the profit part while forcing others to take their risk for them. Screw that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          David, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:58am

          Re: Re: Re: Evidence Is Unfair And Unbalanced

          Large profits were typically linked to large risk, seems they want to keep the profit part while forcing others to take their risk for them.

          Everybody taking an insurance does that. It is perfectly legitimate. And the companies are prepared to pay their insurance premiums by way of bribing as many politicians as it takes.

          As opposed to the normal insurance business, however, the payout is not taken from the premiums but the affected states and ultimately their citizens. But in the end, the citizens should have thought of bribing their politicians before everybody else did in order to quench their thirst for more money.

          Admittedly, that sounds like trying to quench a fire with gasoline.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:02am

    No, not really surprising at all

    Given the magnitude of the effect that TAFTA/TTIP could have on the economies and daily life of both the US and EU, it is surprising that there has not been more analysis of its likely impact.

    If the agreements were really focused on trade, then analysis would make sense, as they'd want to get a good idea of what should stay, what should go, what should be added, and what should be kept out.

    The agreements however, have almost nothing to do with 'trade', with that just being the excuse for them. Rather, they are more focused on giving large multi-national corporations perks and the ability to have equal, if not higher footing than the governments of various countries, giving them the ability to dictate what governments are allowed to do when it comes to making laws or attempting to tell companies what they may or may not do.

    Put more simply, the primary purpose behind these 'trade' agreements has nothing to do with trade, so it's no wonder they haven't bothered with any detailed analysis, as it would be a waste or time and potentially expose just how little they'd actually do to help anyone but the large corporations running the negotiations.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 3:30am

      Re: No, not really surprising at all

      You are seeing trade in too narrow a scope. Reality of modern trade agreements is that the government imposed direct cost part has been almost eliminated. However, the cost of having to operate in different legal environments is the modern challenge. Now, the way these challenges are being eliminated is favouring multi-national companies indefensively since they are the ones making the difficulties apparent to the negotiators and suggesting the solutions.

      In short, modern trade agreements do have something to do with trade, but it is indefensibly biased towards serving multi-national companies interests. Whether the savings on administrative costs turn into a meaningful trade improvement or the ability to challenge legislators is advantageous for society at large remains to be seen and thus the arguments against ISDS and modern trade barrier reductions are fair as long as they occur as case studies and in other ways improve the discussion on their necessity.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:53am

        Re: Re: No, not really surprising at all

        Sounds like a lot of mealy mouthed bullshit.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        beltorak (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:31pm

        Re: Re: No, not really surprising at all

        why should there be a cost to operating in different legal regimes? why should there be a cost at all? let's just skip straight to the end goal here and allow corporations to sue *any* government they are under, foreign or domestic.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:27am

    This report shows isds is a big con job,
    to give big corporations more power,
    and reduce any potential regulation by government,
    economic growth depends on things like oil prices ,inflation,
    education policy etc
    A Forecast of maybe .oo5 per cent growth,
    is ridiculous ,
    like saying my car will go faster if i remove the back
    bumper and tail lights.
    its an insult to the eu and uk legal system to say
    companys and corporations can,t get proper treatment
    in the court,
    so we need a whole new legal framework biased towards business .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:46am

    You are being unfair here

    We have yet to be convinced of the need for ISDS provisions in TTIP. The UK Government and the EU must demonstrate that the advanced legal institutions of the EU and the US cannot protect foreign investors before any ISDS is considered in the TTIP.

    Again, coming from a naturally pro-business Parliamentary Committee, that's a pretty damning comment.

    Well, of course such a committee would not be head over heels in love with ISDS.

    Why would they? It means that corporations can cover their ass by bribing, excuse me, lobbying the local lawmakers, and the largest corporations sit in the U.S. rather than individual EU countries. So parliamentary committees have nothing to gain except from the bribes, excuse me, lobbying needed to pass those laws, and those will only come if they need lots of "persuasion".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    privatefrazer, 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:46am

    Lucky we have GCHQ

    who can remind the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee of the obvious benefits - protection of economic interests being their remit

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    beltorak (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:29pm

    call me a conspiracists

    but could it be that the UK had this BIS commission this finding to gain more leverage in something *they* want out of the deal?

    without knowing what the whole deal is, it's hard to say.

    (and like any good conspiracist, i haven't bothered to find out if the UK positions are public or available, i'm just throwin it out there)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dr David Hill, 27 Mar 2015 @ 12:59pm

    TTIP will be a disaster fotr 90%+ of EU people including the UK

    At long last, some of our politicians in the EU are just starting to realise that the TTIP is good for the multi-nationals profits and insatiable greed, but a disaster for 90%+ of the people, as it takes away the people's democracy to challenge the economic and financial might of big business, and basically their jobs.


    http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-ttip-transatlantic-trade-and.html


    Indeed Robert Reich, the former US secretary-of-state has stated that the last trade deal that the US made, over 700,000 American jobs were lost to the cheaper low-wage economies. But, this time as the TTIP is much larger (indeed the largest that can ever be created by the multi-nationals), some economists have predicted between 1,500,000 to 2,000.000 jobs will go throughout the EU (the UK through the NHS et al over a quarter of these increased unemployment projected dire statistics - cutting labour costs is the first thing that corporate consolidation does). And they say that greater economics creates more jobs. Tell us another lie please or better still, come clean about the true ramifications of TTIP on the people Mr. Cameron and Mr. Miliband, as both have already signed up to it behind closed doors. Therefore no matter if you vote 'blue' or 'red', the conservative and labour leaders want it and it will happen.

    Unfortunately the TTIP once signed is irrevocable and we can never come out of it once signed up to, or if we tried, we would get sued by the largest corporations in the world for loss of the guaranteed profit that TTIP guarantees for corporates - you couldn't make it up if you tried, but totally true. Basically such a contract could bankrupt the UK and all EU nations over the coming decades and make the rich and power even more richer and powerful than they are today. Unfortunately on the other side of the coin, the vast majority of people would be impoverished, for as Newton said in words to the effect, for every action there is an equal action in reverse. Glad to see therefore that some politicians are waking up to the realities of selling your soul to the mighty corporation and the TTIP will be the ultimate icing on the cake.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    prof hasni shah, 26 Oct 2015 @ 1:50am

    online istikhara

    Realy nice Post I like it keep it up http://asstrologist.com/online-istikhara/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Prof Hasni shah, 1 Nov 2015 @ 11:15pm

    Online istikhara

    Realy nice Post I like it keep it up http://asstrologist.com/online-istikhara/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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