Sustainability should be key in trade negotiations

cop21At the end of this year, nearly 200 nations hope to negotiate a 15-year agreement that will foster change towards a sustainable low-carbon economy and establish obligations for all nations. Previously reluctant nations have already offered ambitious reduction targets and the European Union continues to be the most daring actor. Business will play a key role in the implementation. This will be an opportunity for strategic actors to voice their views on possible impacts over free trade agreements, among which the Mercosur-EU FTA. Old attitudes, barriers and reservations will have to be revisited in order to look for win-win scenarios.

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Study tour on “The EU-South Korea Free Trade Agreement”

IMG_5112Free Trade and open markets stimulate economic growth and therefore the creation of wealth and prosperity. It is against this background that the European Union started to negotiate various Free Trade Agreements in 2007, aiming to lower tariffs and non-tariff trade barriers alike. The first one to be concluded was with South Korea – provisionally entering into force in July 2011.

In this context, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom invited a group of six liberal-minded Koreans to Brussels to discuss the current state of the FTA, its achievements so far but also the remaining shortcomings. Over the course of three days, the young professionals had the unique chance to meet officials from various EU institutions but also non-governmental think tanks such as the European Centre for International Political Economy.

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The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Transatlantic Relations Reloaded

stein savannahSpeech of Hans H. Stein, Director International Political Dialogue, European Institutions and North America at the  FNF Conference “The Current State of Transatlantic Relations: An Assessment” in Savannah GA, May 30 – June 2, 2013

Imagine for a second, you were an innovative entrepreneur educated at one of the best engineering schools – Aachen, Germany. You are specialized in the automotive sector and come up with this brand new & stylish, efficient & clean, family oriented but also sporty car: it is THE all-in-one-solution or as we say in German “eierlegende Wollmilchsau”. Being an entrepreneur you also enjoy competition. Thus you want to rock the US-market. The production costs are 30’000 $. Now the first that increases the price is a 2,5% tariff barrier. Not much, but… Even though you have complied with all the high European standards (e.g. security, noise reduction, environment) now you will have to make a whole new set of tests that differ from the European regulations. You will even have to change the seat belts and the bumper. All that adds up to costs equivalent to a further tariff of at least 26,8%. Therefore, the cost of your car would rise from 30’000 $ to 39’000 $ – not even including the costs for transportation and distribution.

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The “We-versus-Them” bias – A critical review of the EU trade policy.

During the most recent High Noon Lunchtime Debate by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, Frank Hoffmeister, the Deputy Head of Cabinet for European Commissioner for Trade, Karel de Gucht, Emmanuel Martin, Editor of Un Monde Libre, and Frederik Cyrus Roeder, Founding Member of the European Students for Liberty, discussed the current trade regime policy of the European Union (EU). Continue reading