TTIP will not only impact people in the EU and the US, but Africa stands to lose too

The on-going Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the U.S. and the European Union are fast becoming a primary concern of NIAS. While it is the case that TTIP has generated a great deal of commentary about its very serious implications for Western democracy, human rights, food safety, public services and environmental protection, much less consideration has been given to its impact on Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Those that support TTIP, most notably multinational corporations, are often found pushing the myth that this trade deal is great for job creation and economic advancement in the U.S. and the EU. The main study on which the promotion of TTIP relies is the 2013 study that the EU Commission itself commissioned from the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).[1]

 

Indeed, the CEPR claims that this comprehensive ‘free trade’ partnership would increase the size of the EU economy around €120 billion (or 0.5% of GDP) and the US by €95 billion (or 0.4% of GDP), however, the fact that CEPR is largely funded by a long list of central banks, large transnational banks and multinational corporations that can buy ‘platinum membership’ of CEPR, is but one indication that these figures are exaggerated.[2]

The deal’s economic and social ‘benefits’ in the West have also been shown to be vastly overblown by various political organisations, pressure groups, international development and human rights organisations.[3]

More worryingly though, it is SSA that stands to be one of the biggest net losers of this deal, according to one of the very few efforts to quantify the potential impacts of TTIP on the developing world.[4]

Indeed as it currently stands, most of SSA benefits from various U.S and EU trade preference schemes, including The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Everything But Arms (EBA) and European Partnerships Agreements (EPAs); however, TTIP would change the existing economic dynamics of world trade. Africa would have to compete with the world’s largest free trade zone in a marketplace of 800 million of the world’s richest consumers. AGOA, EBA and EPAs will not benefit Africa to the same extent under TTIP.

TTIP would mean a closer trading relationship between the U.S. and the EU – with preferences given to U.S. and European exporters. This will result in SSA being undercut in both markets.

African leaders must now manage the possible impacts of TTIP. While Africa may have little to no say on the current negotiations, they do have control over a number of factors that will help secure its economic future. Firstly, Africa should look to increase its levels of regional and continental trade integration processes. A priority should be on infrastructure development within the region. Secondly, Africa should place an emphasis on expanding its markets into Asia and the Pacific. For too long now Africa has heavily relied on the U.S. and the EU to secure its economic future. Now may be the opportunity for Africa to tap into the developed and emerging Asian and Pacific markets.

In any case, Africa needs to become an actor, not a pawn in international trade negotiations. This is a region that has a lot to offer in terms of natural resources, agriculture and industrial outputs etc. It therefore shouldn’t wait and see what the effect of these negotiations will be. Now is the time for African leaders to take some initiative by refusing to be cast aside from negotiations that inevitably affect them.

Written by Mr M, NIAS

[1] See: http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2013/september/tradoc_151787.pdf [2] For more information, see: http://stopttip.net/trade-background/busting-the-economic-arguments/ [3] See for example: The Green Party UK, 38Degrees, SumOfUs, WDM, etc. [4] Bertelsmann Stiftung, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP): Who benefits from a free trade deal?

 

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