Polish Agriculture Minister questions benefits of TTIP

As reported here on ARC2020, A debate over a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the US and EU has been going on throughout this year. After the first round of talks in July 2013, there was an intention to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2014, but now it’s more likely that there will be an extension of the talks in 2015.

According to Polish Agriculture Minister Stanislaw Kalemba, given the current tariff rate, the liberalisation of trade would be much more beneficial for the U.S. than Europe.

– I’ve got a lot of doubts about the readiness of European agriculture for the full liberalisation of trade with the United States. – Mr. Kalemba told portalspozywczy.pl.– I believe there are two important differences: the level of customs’ duties and the agricultural models. We must also remember that the EU agriculture has strict requirements on food safety, animal welfare, environmental protection, etc. This translates to higher costs of production in the EU, which in turn has consequences in terms of competitive disadvantage toward the food producers in other countries, including the USA. –

Mr. Kalemba believes also that taking into account these differences, in the case of sensitive food products a trade liberalisation within the EU-US Agreement should be limited to tariff quotas, which do not endanger the stability of the EU market. The agreement should also provide a safeguard clause allowing a temporary withdrawal of preferences in case of a significant increase in imports threatens any domestic market. Examples of such sensitive sectors are: meat, poultry and eggs, in which animal welfare standards have an impact on the competitiveness. The issues related to food are perceived as “sensitive” in the negotiations, mainly due to the differences in the approach to several key food industry topics, such as GMOs or cloning farm animals.

According to Mr. Kalemba the agreement with the United States should not result in a lowering of the EU standards in agriculture and food production. The differences in the food production standards should be taken into account in decisions on the scope and scale of liberalisation of trade. So far the EU does not seek to include the issues of GMOs into the negotiations. Polish Ag Ministry believes that cultivation of GM crops should be decided by the member countries of the EU.

A study, published in June 2013 by the Bertelsmann Foundation shows that TTIP would mainly benefit Washington. The experts of the Munich-based IFO institute, which did the study, found a deal would lead to a 13,4 5% long term income per head increase in the US, but only an average of 5% rise among the EU’s 27 member states.

Europe and the US account for almost half of the world’s total output and a third of its trade and the transatlantic partnership would be the biggest in the world – trading €2 billion of goods and services every day.

EU Commission on TTIP

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About Marek Kryda 17 Articles

Marek Kydra is a journalist and film maker from Poland.