EU deals in development around the world

When the World Trade Organisation Doha Development Round, initiated in 2001, stalled in the face of developing countries’ resistance to it, the EU switched in 2005 to a program of bilateral (2 trade negotiating partners) and regional trade deals.

Now the EU has bilateral or regional deals, at some stage of development, with much of the world.

The most significant is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US (TTIP) formally launched in July 2013.

Another agreement, the Transpacific Partnership – TPP (12 countries, also including the US) has similar aims and inclusions to TTIP and its progress will reverberate in TTIP negotiations

Whether US internal Trade Promotion Authority (Fast Track) is granted to the US government by the US Congress, will also affect TTIP, possibly decisively.

At the same time, the international trade agenda is still being pushed forward within the WTO. Pluralateral agreements, which were not supposed to be allowed, are being progressed in that context. These are between a few of the WTO’s 156 members. The aim is to coerce other nations to join, so that these agreements can eventually become part of the generalised WTO platform. This one-by-one joining process doesnt allow countries to band together to resist what is essentially a western corporate agenda, pursued on behalf of corporations by western governements.

These are the EU’s main trade agreements, with the stage they are at, and the WTO plurilateral agreements that are very significant but are kept from public attention.

EU bilateral and regional trade deals:

  • S Korea, Colombia: completed
  • Canada: signed ‘in principle’ Oct 2013
  • Singapore: negotiated for a long period
  • India: negotiated for 5 years, but now dormant, especially with Indian elections
  • Malaysia: started
  • China (a bilateral investment treaty – BIT): not yet launched

Plurilateral agreements within the multilateral WTO:

  • Trade in Services Agreement(TISA)-launched
  • Global Procurement Agreement (GPA) – apparently recently completed, according to the EU Trade Commission but
    without publicity or public information about the implications.
  • Environmental Goods agreement initiated. ‘Environmental goods will include e.g. privatised flood mitigation contracts and contracts in relation to other environmental disasters. This agreement ensures ‘liberalisation’ so that transnational coporations get the contracts. Transnational corporate profiteering from environmental disasters is facilitated both by government budget cuts for such work and by the liberalising Government Procurement Agreement).See the EU’s press release on this

The ‘trade’ deals that have been defeated:

  • Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) – died when light was shone on it
  • The WTO Doha Development Round (apart from the miniscule part that got passed years late at Bali in Dec 2013, allowing them to say the WTO lives) – all but died, in the face of developing countries’ teamed up resistance
  • ACTA – European parliament voted against, with huge public resistance esp from internet freedom interest
  • Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) – global protests and the objections of the French government
  • EU/ASEAN agreement – because of diversity among Asian countries (according to the Trade Commission!)
  • The EU/India free trade agreement was negotiated for 5 years and appears to have gone cold, though still threatens.

These are not small deals. Some of them may not have been reported in the EU, but it’s likely that protests elsewhere played a part.

Of the planned Economic Partnership Agreements with poor regions, only Cariforum seems to be in place, not the African regions or the Pacific.

In fact the EU is starting trade agreements all the time, always in a tone that suggests they will inevitably go forward – and then they don’t.

FYI – A case in question is the group of countries between EU and Russia.

A year and a half back 6 countries were lined up for ‘Deep and Comprehensive free trade agreements’ with the EU. This was in fact de facto accession to the EU, when no EU Member States ‘had any appetite’ for more accessions re crisis. (Trade deals can be and are done very quietly, only involving the Trade Commission – and when a European Parliament vote is required at the end of negotiating, no one wants to be seen to be against ‘trade’).

The carrots offered:

  • funding to come in line with the EU
  • visa free entry to the EU
  • a promise of accession proper

as part of the trade deals

Now Azerbaijan, Armenia and Belarus are out of that. Ukraine’s last minute reversal is leading to civil war, with deep involvement of the EU and US, and Moldova is being offered visa-free access to the EU, very quickly and before sign-up, to avert any reversal. Georgia is set to sign up , though breakaway parts of Georgia are Russian controlled.