The architects of the current wave of trade deals have embarked on a desperate ploy to salvage something from the death of their flagship treaty. Sacrificing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP in order to get CETA (the close relation of TTIP, a deal between the EU and Canada) agreed was always going to be a risky strategy. The taste of victory has simply whetted the appetite of the campaign to stop CETA. That campaign is now making real waves.
Late last week in Bratislava, EU officials finally admitted that TTIP would not see the light of day during Obama’s term of office and therefore the future of the deal is extremely uncertain. The call from four countries of the EU (including Austria and France) to stop TTIP negotiations and to restart the whole process with a fresh mandate accentuated the death of the deal. Negotiations scheduled for 3 October in New York will be zombie negotiations as they go through the motions in order to save face for Cecelia Malmstrom and Michael Froman, the heads of the trade teams in the EU and US respectively.
So what happened to CETA? Certainly CETA’s boat has sprung a few leaks and the trade ministers gathered in the Slovakian capital busied themselves in bailing out the water that has started to threaten this project. This in itself is a huge victory – we never imagined we’d have such an effect on this deal which seemed ‘certain’ 18 months ago.
At the behest of the German centre-left SPD (Germany’s Labour Party) there will be a new annex, or protocol, added to the text designed to allay a few fears, but nothing is changing in the actual working content of the deal and once more the EU machine is trying a cosmetic change while pretending it will make a real difference.