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US-EU Trade Agreement Gains Exaggerated, Say 41 Consumer Groups, Economist 97

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the illuminati-mind-control-plot dept.
Glyn Moody (946055) writes "The main claims about likely economic gains from concluding the US-EU trade agreement TAFTA/TTIP, billed as a 'once-in-a-generation prize,' are increasingly under attack. BEUC, representing 41 consumer organizations from 31 European countries, has written a letter to the EU Trade Commissioner responsible for the negotiations, Karel De Gucht, complaining about his 'exaggeration of the effects of the TTIP,' and 'use of unsubstantiated figures regarding the job creation potential.' In a blog post entitled 'Why Is It So Acceptable to Lie to Promote Trade Deals?,' Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, has even harsher words: 'Implying that a deal that raises GDP by 0.4 or 0.5 percent 13 years out means "job-creating opportunities for workers on both continents" is just dishonest. The increment to annual growth is on the order of 0.03 percentage points. Good luck finding that in the data.' If the best-case outcome is just 0.03% extra growth per year, is TAFTA/TTIP worth the massive upheavals it will require to both US and EU regulatory systems to achieve that?"
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US-EU Trade Agreement Gains Exaggerated, Say 41 Consumer Groups, Economist

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:04AM (#47163549)

    'Why Is It So Acceptable to Lie to Promote Trade Deals?

    For the same reasons that trade deals are negotiated in secret. The general population never benefits, only a few select special interests.

  • by Apocryphos (1222870) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:05AM (#47163553)
    This is just classic use of government to support established corporations. It's been happening for a long time, and it's been lied about for a long time. It's not surprising that their sales pitch to the public isn't exactly accurate...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:23AM (#47163655)

      And, quite frankly, 'free trade' agreements with the US are a joke, because the US doesn't fucking abide by them.

      The US hammers everyone else on agricultural subsidies, and throws billions at corn producers.

      The US bitches about protectionist policies of other countries, and then enacts exceedingly protectionist policies themselves.

      The US pushed IP protections for their stuff, and then ignores those of other countries -- Champagne, for instance, is restricted to mean from the Champagne region in France everywhere but America.

      The US forces other countries to add country of original labeling, while refusing to do it themselves.

      As part of these agreements, the US forces other countries to adopt IP and copyright laws which mostly favor US firms, and which they can't even enact at home.

      'Free' trade with the US is the right to get raped and bullied by the US to promote their interests.

      No country who has enacted a 'free' trade agreement with the US has ever done well with it. Because the US are the most hypocritical, self-serving assholes on the planet when it comes to such things.

      Fuck free trade. Because it's anything but. It's a distorting factor designed to get US companies access to markets which don't want their products.

      • Same a the EU does. Half of the money we taxpayers pay goes to argrarian subsidies. And these do not go to poor farmers but to our own megacorps like Unilever.
  • Pretty obvious, since (a) 0.03% growth is well within the margin of error for GDP measurements, and (b) the worst-case scenario is probably a GDP reduction of more than 0.03%.
    • by Talennor (612270)

      What if I reframe the question, "We can standardize regulatory frameworks between allied friendly countries through modernizing uphevals. In the long run this is expected to be free of cost, or even slightly profitable!" I don't know if it'll change your mind, but it sounds nice to me.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:07AM (#47163567)

    The U.S.A. and the European Commission are tired of democracy interfering with corporations. This "Free Trade" treaties will mean that governments are no longer allowed to interfere with multinational corporations: the corporations may conduct business as they have paid their politicians at home to do, and when a local government says "we have human rights and environmental protections over here", then the corporation can sue the government in a corporation-run quasi-court committee and get all the "losses" paid as "penalties".

    Of course it's worth it to those money-grabbing interest groups to extend their power and bypass all democratic control and law.

    • by umghhh (965931)
      Of course that it is so. The question is not whether they want to abuse our rectums but what can we do about that? Considering how difficult it is to get wide enough lasting enough protests it is much more effective to hire some lobbyists - the bad thing is - we already pay those people with our tax money so we would end up paying twice and still being uncertain of the result. What a nice world we live in.
    • In Brussels, Democracy is an offer you can't refuse...
    • Of course it's worth it to those money-grabbing interest groups to extend their power and bypass all democratic control and law.

      And if this is not immediately obvious, there's the fact that we only have even the slightest idea of what's in there is due to leaks. If these proposals are so fantastically wonderful for all concerned, why this selective secrecy -- to include the corps, but not the people?

      The version I've seen contains gems such as "importing US natural gas into the EU will be considered in the public interest by default", in combination with all kinds of wording that's obviously aimed at outlawing publicly sponsored alte

    • The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is similar, but less likely to work, as a bunch of independent minded Asians are involved, Has similar proposals. Corporations will be able to sue governments if new regulations interfere with business. Not sure I voted for that. Pretty sure I won't get the chance to.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:07AM (#47163569)

    It effectively outlaws nationalised companies by allowing private corporations to sue for profits lost through productive state labour. Since all essential utilities - water, electricity, gas, train, healthcare, telecoms - have got worse since part or total privatisation in the UK, TTIP can get fucked.

    (Telecoms is arguable - it's easy to compare the technology of the early '80s with that of 2014 and say, "Things have improved under private ownership," but in terms of contemporary technical innovation, BT up to 1985 was a leader, whereas today it is an also-ran in bed with its regulator.)

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Ha-ha-ha. Yes, the old 'you can have any phone so long as it's black Bakelite, and we've got a slot to install it next year' Post Office Telephones was just so, so much better than the BT of today.

      • Ha-ha-ha. Yes, the old 'you can have any phone so long as it's black Bakelite, and we've got a slot to install it next year' Post Office Telephones was just so, so much better than the BT of today.

        The darkest day in the history of the telecoms business was the day when the old monopolies were broken up and 'users' became 'customers' who could go elsewhere for better service. It's a god thing that we now have big monolithic privatized telcos that compete by not invading each other's turf and beat down any annoying competitors that pop up with a big fat club. Watch this if you haven't already it's a must see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

  • It is pretty obvious the current US lead trade agreements are nothing more than vain attempt to lock in the corporate power obtained through propaganda as news and the corruption of democracy, when they took over the fourth estate and turned it into tool of corruption after Ronny Raygun killed the fairness doctrine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org] basically legalising lies in the news. After growing exposure of the corruption on the internet, the corporate psychopaths are desperate to keep the power they

  • It's an excellent reason to lie, if the lies will help remove legal protections against the deal's sponsors. Dr Evil would strongly approve!
  • by nimbius (983462) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:18AM (#47163635) Homepage
    Culturally, from what i can gather, its become acceptible in America to lie in order to sell damned near anything. Our breakfast cereals tout everything from brain vitamins to anti-cancer properties and our fruit juices insist theyre some kind of godlike elixer of everything from bone health to limitless endurance. Now technically we're supposed to have regulatory agencies to police this sort of action, but american regulatory agencies are double-booked with mandates to simultaneously promote and police their industry. Theyre as useful as wheels on a fish, and at best they affirm product recalls due to life-threatening contamination.

    If youve never tried to buy a car in america, its largely the same. theres no concern for your budget or real money as it pertains to your specific earnings. The entire event is predicated with an understanding that you as a customer will finance your purchase, so there isnt much to stop a sale aside from gas prices. youll be sold on christlike reliability and power, and fuel economy where applicable. Big questions like maintenance costs and carbon footprint are avoided.

    so when a trade deal comes down the pipe and it sounds too good to be true, take it from us (it is.) We were sold NAFTA and in turn we lost our manufacturing to south america. We were told goods and services would be cheaper to produce, and in a perverse sort of way they were. WalMart peddled sweatshop clothing and chinese plastic trinkets at rock-bottom prices to a middle class that now basically had no alternative but to concede to their purchase now that they had to take a job at a call center for a fraction of what they made at their old workplace. Countries like Viet Nam and Nicaragua which historically resisted our "free trade" came around to our idea of the marketplace once sponsored rebel groups like the Contra razed their hospitals and blew up their schools for daring to vote a candidate that didnt embrace capitalism.

    what we call trade is pretty laughable. American cars are made in mexico and china, and we ardently prop the automotive industry with bailouts we quixotically insist will create or maintain jobs without realizing the goal of our trade policy is to extinguish the costliest element of our commerce, the american worker. when we say EU trade agreement we mean to target your poorest countries to assemble wiring harnesses for slave labor. We mean to flood your markets with corn and other commodities that will render your farmers bankrupt, just as we have in Mexico. We want you to use dangerous chemical processes because former east block countries with socialized medicine and laughable environmental standards amounts to very little concern for when we poison an entire city and leave So heed this warning:

    we as a nation have left no stone unturned in our relentless quest to crush the world in poverty, desolation, and ruin under the sunny phrase 'free trade.' We wish to render you wholly dependent upon American goods, be they healthy or not, because it makes our next war that much easier to secure your consent to participate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If youve never tried to buy a car in america, its largely the same. theres no concern for your budget or real money as it pertains to your specific earnings. The entire event is predicated with an understanding that you as a customer will finance your purchase, so there isnt much to stop a sale aside from gas prices. youll be sold on christlike reliability and power, and fuel economy where applicable. Big questions like maintenance costs and carbon footprint are avoided.

      Here's a useful clue: buying a car

      • Seriously, why do people think that they're going to buy a car and the sales guy isn't going to try and, you know, sell them a car? It's one thing when companies actively lie about their products, like claiming a car would get 30mpg when it's rated at 10mpg, but their job is to sell you a fucking car. They're going to spin that 10mpg number to seem insignificant, and they aren't going to give a shit about your personal finances, because that's your problem, not theirs. I'd only be concerned if car companies
      • by sjames (1099)

        Sure, but lying crosses the line. Markets don't work when the seller is free to lie. Imagine the seller's outrage if we apply the freedom to lie evenly. I didn't say DOLLARS, so here's your 20,000 pesos, thanks for the car! I might have been exaggerating when I said I would make the payment EVERY month.

        • SO, how is the seller lying to you? The contract says what it says, and you're allowed to (and insane if you don't) read it before you sign it. You can even take it to a lawyer for his opinion.

          And if the seller insists that you sign now or lose the deal, stand up and say "thank you for your time" and walk out.

          Note, by the by, that just because auto dealers offer financing, there is absolutely NO requirement that you finance your car through them. Talk to your bank before you ever go shopping for a car

          • by sjames (1099)

            It's usually a matter of the MPG being wildly imaginary, along with the reliability, cost of ownership, etc. Often when they speak of the warranty, it's a long list of half-truths.

            If the car is used, it gets much much worse in some places.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So I see you've never traveled. I've been all over the world. No where have I ever gone that the advice "buyer beware" hasn't been applicable. There may be truth in labeling laws, but they're no more strict than what you get in the US. I think it was only a week ago I read an article saying that almost no car currently sold in the EU could meet the fuel efficiency ratings given to them, with some of them being off by as much as 20%.

      And you don't want to know the hell my Spanish friend has to deal with o

  • "If the best-case outcome is just 0.03% extra growth per year, is TAFTA/TTIP worth the massive upheavals it will require to both US and EU regulatory systems to achieve that?"
    0.03% is essentially the cost to implement the massive upheaval in the regulatory systems I bet.

    • by MtHuurne (602934)

      That and the lobbyists: if there were fewer of these agreements in negotiation there would be less work for them. Not all GDP increases are actually useful. In the Netherlands we had an exceptionally soft winter; the GDP decreased because less natural gas was sold.

    • Yup. It is a zero sum game. Therefore the trade agreements will make absolutely no overall difference. If there is a diff, then it is purely due to the bureaucracy.
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Yup. It is a zero sum game. Therefore the trade agreements will make absolutely no overall difference.

        Oh, it makes a difference ... just not the one they tell us it will make.

        These agreements tend to push more money up into the hands of corporations, and move more jobs away (thereby gutting the economy) and leaving the citizens with nothing.

        Basically, they're a sham to make wealthy corporations wealthier, and force the rest of us to be in a downward spiral of wages as everything moves to someplace cheaper t

        • in the span of 100 odd years our society went from valuing labor ..

          "There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible." (Henry Ford)

          To completely disregarding the notion that employees are more than just an input needed to generate shareholder value:

          "Costco's average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam's Club. And Costco's health plan makes those at many oth

  • by msauve (701917) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:30AM (#47163697)
    They didn't say what kind of jobs. It's government jobs, obviously.
  • When large corporate lobbyists and their politicians talk about the economy, simply substitute the word "profit" for "jobs" to get a more honest version of what they're saying.

    Our joint endeavor is part of our overall agenda for growth and jobs to both sides of the Atlantic by boosting trade and investment.

    Our joint endeavor is part of our overall agenda for growth and profits to both sides of the Atlantic by boosting trade and investment.

    I think it was Noam Chomsky who pointed this out.

    Anyway I'm all in fa

    • Anyway I'm all in favor of completely free trade between the EU and the US. Why the hell do we even need an agreement?

      Because under current laws in both the US and EU, there are barriers to entry of goods?

      • by rasmusbr (2186518)

        Anyway I'm all in favor of completely free trade between the EU and the US. Why the hell do we even need an agreement?

        Because under current laws in both the US and EU, there are barriers to entry of goods?

        I don't know about the US, but the EU has a highly complex and detailed system of tariffs on goods entering the EU.

    • Re:Rule of thumb (Score:4, Informative)

      by green1 (322787) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @09:50AM (#47163835)

      They need the agreements so that they can hash out how to allow trade for large multi-national corporations, while forbidding it to all private individuals, because allowing individuals to import things without barriers would lead to anarchy... or something like that.... For example, In Canada our auto manufacturers can produce their cars anywhere in the world and ship them in to the country, due to various free trade agreements they can often do this without any tariffs getting in their way. However as a consumer it is illegal for me to buy a car in a different country and import it myself. (with some small exceptions for cars from the USA, however even then the auto manufacturers write the list of which cars are allowed to be imported)
      We have similar rules for many different industries, automotive is just one of the most obvious ones. Remember, "Free" trade is never the goal of any of these agreements, increased regulation for consumers, coupled with job movement to lower cost jurisdictions, combined with fewer trade barriers for multi-national corporations is what you can expect every single time.

    • by dave420 (699308)
      I'd rather not, as to encourage the US's attitudes towards worker protection or food safety would be disastrous.
    • by JRV31 (2962911)

      When large corporate lobbyists and their politicians talk about the economy, simply substitute the word "profit" for "jobs" to get a more honest version of what they're saying.

      And beware of anything with the word "free" in it.

  • Is there any reason that reducing pointless barriers to trade has to occur in one giant all-or-nothing pact, instead of lots of little treaties over a period of years that don't depend on each other?

    I'm all for the notion of free trade in theory, but the problem with treaties like these (and the EU in general, and the US Federal government, etc) is that their notion of "free trade" tends to simply mean "trade under the rules of whatever is biggest" rather than what the term mentally implies, i.e. people tra

    • Is there any reason that reducing pointless barriers to trade has to occur in one giant all-or-nothing pact, instead of lots of little treaties over a period of years that don't depend on each other?

      Because lots of small packs could actually make trading harder. The big issue is not tariff items (taxes charged on imports) but non-tariff items.

      Consumer safety regulations are a big one. American and European auto safety regulations are about equivalent but have some minor variations. But there are enough minor differences that the car has to be redesigned and retested effectively blocking trade. Sometimes it is just bureaucracy but other times it is just a thin veil for protectionism. For example, the US

  • Random groupings of people say bad things about major international deal without any supporting evidence.

    Seriously, the best they can do is "The language used is vague"? How about doing their own analysis instead of just pointing out that the documents aren't perfect?

    • Random groupings of people say bad things about major international deal without any supporting evidence.

      Seriously, the best they can do is "The language used is vague"? How about doing their own analysis instead of just pointing out that the documents aren't perfect?

      I think the point is that the language is intentionally vague to conceal the meaning from an uncritical public. If critics of the agreements say they contain language that "could allow" certain bad things to happen, proponents can smear-them as "conspiracy theorists" to discount their point of view, and a pliant, lapdog corporate media will lap it up, eagerly.

      • Intentional vagueness or not, what they're doing here is spreading FUD. The passages they quote aren't even particularly vague, they just seem to not grasp the concept of margins of error.

        General opinion is that free trade is good. If they want to dispute that, they'd better have some hard data to back it up, instead of sensationalist bullshit about possible conspiracies.

  • I think they're also counting the jobs required to implement the new regulations.
    The amount of jobs required to implement it will be huge, on both continents.

    • Really? RTFA: "The analysis explicitly says that it will not lead to more jobs since the models are full employment models. It may lead to somewhat higher wages, but it is not a way to employ the unemployed. Furthermore, the discussion notes that in the transition, some workers may end up unemployed as the economies adjust to the new rules."
  • FTA:

    If the best-case outcome is just 0.03% extra growth per year, is TAFTA/TTIP worth the massive upheavals it will require to both US and EU regulatory systems to achieve that?"

    Those "massive upheavals" are precisely what makes the effort worthwile in the minds of the legislators and negotiators responsible. Just think of how much opportunity there is here for consultants, contractors, family members, and other corporate and governmental parasites and hangers-on. No, it's not going to boost the overall economy - probably quite the opposite. And no, it's not going to result in jobs where they're needed - it's going to result in extra money and bigger power bases for people who

  • by sabbede (2678435)
    Free trade deals are about more than moving goods. They're about strengthening social and political bonds, harmonizing regulations, and the democratization of international relations.

    There is a hard and fast rule in political economy - (trade == democracy) -> peace. Trade and democracy are directly and inextricably related, which has caused serious consternation among those seeking to quantify the interactions as there is no known variable that operates on only one. Anything increasing trade increa

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