by Christien van den Brink
THE HAGUE, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to be signed between the United States and Europe might be a game changer for geopolitics, a Dutch expert told Xinhua recently.
Peter van Ham, senior research fellow at the Dutch Clingendael Institute, thinks that TTIP could have an overwhelming standard-setting power for other countries.
"And even a major competitor like China for example, would almost certainly comply with whatever trade rules and regulations the transatlantic West offered to the world," Van Ham said.
TTIP aims at removing trade barriers in a wide range of economic sectors to make it easier to buy and sell goods and services between the European Union (EU) and the United States.
The agreement that is expected to boost the EU's economy by 120 billion euros (162 billion U.S. dollars) once signed might have far-fetched consequences for the two super powers and the rest of the world.
"But if you look at it from the bright side, if the EU and the U.S. do manage to negotiate one standard for both areas, it could mean that other countries no longer need to comply with two different standards. This could be an enormous cost-saver," Van Ham told Xinhua.
What would TTIP mean for developing countries? History teaches us that the implementation of obligations presented by trade agreements frequently presents developing countries with major challenges.
"There is legitimate fear that developing countries will have difficulty in implementing the new TTIP rules and regulations, causing negative externalities," Van Ham said.
"TTIP may also cause a flurry of negative trade diversion hurting third countries," he added.
A solution for countries that are strongly affected by the outcomes of the TTIP negotiation is that they would be involved in the negotiation rounds. But so far, European and American NGO's, parliamentarians and citizens continuously expressed the feeling that the negotiation process has been far from transparent.
So what is TTIP going to be? Will it be an ambitious EU-U.S. agreement that will help push economies worldwide to produce safer products for the environment and consumers?
Or will TTIP raise the market entry barriers for developing countries, making it more difficult for their companies to reach the western consumers?
The fourth round of the TTIP negotiations might answer some of these urgent questions.
The EU-U.S. talks for the TTIP started in July 2013. After three rounds of talks, the fourth round of TTIP negotiations are expected to take place in Brussels in March.