The City throws its weight behind TTIP

In March 2016 the City of London Corporation voted to support remaining in the EU. In May the Chairman of Policy dismisses concerns that the trade agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and the US (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or ‘TTIP’) gives too much power to corporate interests and he takes his hat off to negotiators sitting in darkened rooms trying to get a good deal for the financial services industry.

Lord Mayor's Show 2013 (c) Martin Parr/ Magnum Photos

© Martin Parr “Unseen City” – The Lord Mayor’s Show, 2013

But what does the City’s Pro-EU position amount to? I continue to try to find out. Here is an exchange I had on 12 May at the Council meeting with Mark Boleat, the Chairman of Policy, over the TTIP. It’s clear that he’s in favour of this trade agreement and puts opposition down to misinformation. It’s all because of a “communication problem”. Those who oppose it need to be . . . re-educated?

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Campbell-Taylor: My Lord Mayor, now that the City of London has decided to throw its weight behind the Remain cause to stay in the European Union would the Chairman of Policy also encourage us to take a leadership position in relation to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which is the trade agreement that President Obama recently referred to as being our best chance of entering into a trade agreement with the United States, My Lord Mayor

UnknownMark Boleat (Chairman of Policy): I thank the honourable member for giving me notice of his question. The financial services industry in the UK is strongly in favour of the TTIP and the inclusion of financial services within it. Accordingly the City of London Corporation supports this line.

This is an area where the International Regulatory Strategy group takes the lead with the City UK and the City Corporation, drawing on its work to promote the cause. We do this through our own engagement with the United States and European business and police stakeholders. Indeed in a visit to the United States last year I hosted a round table on this subject in Washington. On the member’s question we strongly support the efforts being made in the US and the EU towards the agreement of the TTIP.

We believe that it needs to be fully inclusive and of benefit to both economic growth and job creation on both sides of the Atlantic.We also believe that the negotiations and the subsequent agreement should cover all aspects of the transatlantic economy including financial and related professional services.

We particularly support the UK and EU objectives for including regulatory cooperation in financial services in TTIP, something both UK and US practitioners have called for to avoid issues stemming from US EU regulatory convergence.

In short, My Lord Mayor, I’m happy to re-iterate the importance of the work that the City UK and the City of London Corporation has done and continues to do to encourage a successful conclusion to the TTIP negotiations, my Lord Mayor

Campbell-Taylor: Given the City’s clear commitment to TTIP, I would ask the Chairman of Policy how much weight he (and the groups that he has referred to) have placed on the concerns that citizens have about the impact that TTIP may have on public services and on the environment. Those are the two areas that have caused most alarm in observers looking at the negotiation. Would you let us know the weight that you have put on those concerns, My Lord Mayor?

Mark Boleat (Chairman of Policy): My Lord Mayor, trade negotiations are a long and complex exercise extending over many years. They are normally conducted in darkened rooms by seasoned negotiators with no one anywhere else expressing any interest.

TTIP is rather different. It has been heavily promoted politically in this country and therefore misinformation arises, in this case to quite amazing levels. TTIP does not threaten the environment. TTIP does not threaten public services. It will be a negotiated agreement. And if the EU is not satisfied with the agreement there will not be an agreement.

All of the evidence, and I commend an article in the Economist from a few weeks ago, all the evidence is that the principle beneficiary of these free trade agreements are lower income people, people who are able to enjoy the benefits of free trade by buying essential goods and services at a lower price than they would otherwise pay

And so it is important that negotiators concentrate on the prize that can be gained by these negotiations – though clearly that there is a communication problem to be dealt with in relation to some of the misinformation about the content of some of the negotiations. My Lord Mayor

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