TTIP: Getting Past “No”

To make TTIP a success, negotiators should embrace public involvement.

Credit: ponsuwan -


  • #TTIP is a key component of the strategic reset of global relationships to promote American leadership.
  • Complex trade deals like #TTIP & #TPP face a 21st century challenge to explain and build public support.
  • #TTIP: Serious policy conflicts remain on food, emissions, data protection, labor impacts and financial regulation.

After nearly two decades of attempts to start negotiating a transatlantic free trade agreement, the United States and the European Union are finally moving together on a major comprehensive agreement. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the economic equal to the NATO Treaty that bound our security interests.

Previous attempts at a bilateral economic negotiation as ambitious as the TTIP have failed. The United States and EU urgently need an agreement to tackle the recession and fight unemployment with growth.

Basic principles are established: WTO-consistency, transparency, non-discrimination and essential regulatory equivalence.

Restoring American leadership

The TTIP is also a key component of the strategic reset of global relationships to promote American leadership. That is especially needed following the NSA affair that has eroded trust in American leadership.

In his 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama said: “We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the USA’.”

However , not everyone favors the proposed agreement or the idea of speeding it up. A key player who is not persuaded is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He stated the day after the SOTU Speech that he was against “trade promotion authority,” the Congressional procedural tool also known as “fast-track,” at this time. Whether Congress adopts the fast-track system will be critical to determining the fate of TTIP.

Whether it is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) or other agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, all such complex arrangements confront a 21st century challenge: to explain and build public support for deals with powerful political consequences.

All into the same boat

Government negotiators will lead the talks, but they will need to bring the public, consumers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), labor, farmers and business into a transparent decision making process – something that has unfortunately not happened with the TPP talks.

Organizations representing these groups can energize and mobilize public opinion.

No matter how well organized and determined the business interests are, this agreement will only come into force when public concerns are addressed. At the core of the battle are serious and fundamental conflicts over food safety, emissions standards, the environment, data protection, labor impacts and weakening regulation (financial or otherwise).

These obstacles have to be overcome and legislative approvals have to be won in both the European Parliament and in the U.S. Congress.

But that is only where the battle begins. To succeed, we need a stakeholders’ outreach program to win public support for a comprehensive agreement that meets America’s needs.

EU Commissioner Karel De Gucht and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman have organized a public consultation process with briefings for involving the public.

In the United States a more robust TTIP Stakeholders Outreach Program could be shaped as follows:

1. Collaboration

Organize speakers, CEO/Citizens roundtables and public discussions with local and regional, innovative economic and business development organizations – public, private, business/public sector partnerships, NGOs, educational and research institutions – to facilitate understanding and agreement and collaboration with the goal of supporting the negotiations.

2. Discussion

Enlist U.S. and European chambers of Commerce, such as German, Dutch, Swedish and American businesses to discuss issues and make public presentations of the key issues in TTIP.

In addition to the traditional hearings and government presentations on policy issues, the TTIP Stakeholder Outreach program should link with The Council on Foreign Relations, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and their counterparts, such as the World Affairs Council in Pittsburgh and other cities in the United States to host speeches and panel discussions.

3. Analysis

Experts’ Issues Papers are essential to discuss the key advantages and disadvantages of TTIP in various sectors.

4. Regionalization

Tap the regionalization of the U.S. economy, one of the nation’s competitive strengths. Regions differ in their potential and opportunities to develop different growth sectors and jobs, but are likely partners for and sources of objections against TTIP.

Current strategic regional/local economic development programs are addressing high-value added sectors such as life sciences and biotechnology, Information Technology, Nano-technology, advanced manufacturing, environmental systems, and security, as well as the alternative energy sector.

Once identified, clusters of industries (particularly those industries which are affected by the TTIP (Autos, chemicals and agriculture) can develop TTIP support. Agricultural issues can also be addressed.

5. Investment

Advocate EU investment in the United States in regional projects that create local jobs and promote growth strategies in the current economic and credit market crisis with a scarcity of investment opportunities, offers private equity industry opportunities created by TTIP for their idle funds.

TTIP Stakeholder Outreach will recognize and aggressively promote the opportunities offered by globalization for the international expansion and growth of U.S. businesses of all sizes, and different industries. Innovative international trade and business development policies with the EU will foster jobs, particularly in small businesses.

The United States has the chance to advance our partnership with Europe based on common values of democracy, freedom as well as respect for human dignity and the rule of law. We have a common future. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a bold vision for our future and that of the 21st century, but will only succeed with public support.

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About J.D. Bindenagel

J.D. Bindenagel is a former U.S. Ambassador and currently the Henry Kissinger Professor for Governance and International Security, University of Bonn. [Germany]

Responses to “TTIP: Getting Past “No””

Archived Comments.

  1. On February 28, 2014 at 8:41 am Roy responded with... #

    If you can get strong environmental and labor standards with an easy enforcement tool along with the German model of universal healthcare into any US agreement, I’m in. Otherwise I’ve seen enough of the finacialization and de-industrialization of my country and its time to raise the protectionist tariffs. I’ve seen enough of the high cost of cheap imported goods that can be made here and save all the fuel required for shipping. Lets have vigorous environmental standards, look at China, what happens when they pollute their country to the point where it is uninhabitable? Is one and a half billion Chinese looking for new digs a security threat? Does the air pollution in Beijing drift to the US or get knocked down into the ocean and destroy it? More trade deficits for my country at the expense of ordinary Americas and to the advantage of the obscenely wealthy of Wall Street is a real non-starter for me and I’m pretty sure I speak for at least 300 million Americans.

  2. On February 28, 2014 at 6:07 pm gfulmore responded with... #

    This is pretty abstract, buddy. The fact is that most Americans are very ignorant when it comes to the rest of the world and how we interact with it. Most do not understand that we sent tons of stuff out, not only in, and that much of our domestic economy is based on world trade. And then there are the folks who have genuine concern about working conditions in less-developed countries. I was recently in El Salvador, where people frequently work for $1 per hour. Gasoline cost more than $4 per gallon there, and most household products that we are familiar with cost about the same there, in an environment where people make $1 per hour. These folks do NOT believe that the world’s resources are dwindling. They do not believe that it is below one’s dignity to work for $2 per hour. They do not believe that what the U.S. has been able to do with its available resources should not be done in other parts of the world. No, like Americans, these folks want decent housing and transportation and schools. They WANT the American dream, however they can get it. But this is all globalization talk and the reality that Americans can no longer call the shots in every corner of the world. This is hard to explain, politically, especially when more and more “progressives” on the left are telling us that they have all the answers and that this stuff need not really be up for discussion.

  3. On February 28, 2014 at 6:33 pm gfulmore responded with... #

    This is basically what I was talking about in my comments above. Most Americans are really ignorant about the rest of the world. The idea that China is somehow some backward, awful place, is outdated. This stuff is the anti-trade-with-other-countries stuff that is very hard to get around. Most of these folks grab on to simplistic reasons why the rest of the world is a threat to “our way of life,” when the truth is that most of the world, now, looks more and more like us.

  4. On March 3, 2014 at 4:34 pm Hugh Campbell responded with... #

    You call for: “stakeholders’ outreach program to win public
    support for a comprehensive agreement that meets America’s needs. To make TTIP
    a success, negotiators should embrace public involvement.”

    Since at least September, 2010 there has been public support
    for addressing currency manipulation, see below, yet the U.S. political elite
    chooses to be non-responsive and push “trade promotion authority”.

    Why should the public trust any outreach program by the U.S.
    political elite to be anything other than propaganda?

    Dave Camp’s Math Skills on Job Creation and the Will of
    the People

    This week saw two releases which contrast House Ways and Means Chairman
    Dave Camp’s math skills. He released a 979-page draft “Tax Reform Act of 2014” . (projects
    producing up to 1.8 million more private-sector jobs over 10 years) and the
    Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Stop
    Currency Manipulation and Create Millions of Jobs report (projects producing 2.3 million to 5.8 million jobs
    over the next 3 years).

    Prior to Camp’s Ways and Means Chairmanship, on September 29, 2010 the
    Ryan-Murphy Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 2378) received a
    veto-proof 80 + percent approval margin. This contrasts with the “Tax Reform Act of 2014” which promises
    to be one of 2014’s most controversial pieces of legislation.

    The problem lies with Dave Camp’s obstructionism in
    blocking a currency manipulation bill coming to the house floor under his Chairmanship!

    On September 29, 2010, Rep. Dave Camp voted AYE for the
    Ryan-Murphy Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (H.R. 2378) yet for two
    consecutive Sessions of Congress (112th and 113th) Chairman Camp has block a
    Currency Reform bill from coming to a vote, is spite of his previous AYE vote.