The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was the subject of an interesting discussion-evening on 27 January at the Britisch Residence.
The ABS was fortunate in welcoming two experts on international trade to enlighten us on the intricacies of the intended TTIP.
Mrs. TASCH-RONNER from the Financial,Fiscal and Trade Policy Department of the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber concentrated her remarks on the many advantages the Trade Agreement would have expecially for small and medium sized companies in Austria,while Mr. LÖWY, an expert on international Trade Relations at the Federation of Austrian Industries dwelled on the indispensable importance of the Agreement for the benefit and welfare of the populations on both side of the Atlantic. Challenges which globalization poses to all of us must not only be met but turned into chances and opportunities for the European Union and Austria in particular.
TTIP, however has developed into a highly emotionally charged and hotly debated undertaking which is met by heavy resistance not only by most of the NGOs, but also by the population in general. The European Commission has been negotiating the Agreement over the last two years with the United States on the basis of a mandate given to it by all member states.
While at the beginning these negotiations were shrouded in secrecy, the EC - reacting to widespread criticism - has put on public record most of the negotiating content. A special bone of contention is the clause on Dispute Settlement (ISDS) for the protection of trading companies, whereby ad hoc constituted Arbitration Panels would replace the ordinary judicial proceedings of both the US and the EU.
Since the two panelists - expectedly so - were heavy in favour of the conslusion of TTIP, the moderator of the evening tried to act as the "devils advocate" in injecting critical views and positions, mainly based on studies by Greenpeace and other NGOs. The ensuing discussion was mainly conducted between economic experts but nevertheless provided to the ausdience valuable insight into a subject which will dominate the releations between the United States and the European Union for a long time to come.