In 2001 Tanzania and the Netherlands signed a treaty only known to a few; a so-called Bilateral Investment Treaty aimed "to extend and intensify the economic relations between them and to stimulate the flow of capital and technology and the economic development of the Contracting Parties". But signing the treaty was in fact mainly a symbolic act which since then has had little if any effect in this respect. In fact, a report by the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis found that BITs have no positive effect on investment in low and lower middle income countries located in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa, including Tanzania.
By now, TTIP, the new EU-US free trade agreement, has become a hot topic in the Netherlands too. There has been heavy protest against this trade deal from civil society organisations, scientists, lawyers and civilians, who all have set off a ‘TTIP-alarm’. How much truth is there in their concerns about TTIP? What are the implications of TTIP for the Netherlands? If you are curious to find out the answers to these questions, then come to ‘The Big TTIP Debate: The debate about the free trade agreement between the EU and US’ on Friday evening April 17th. Several speakers will discuss with each other and with the audience about the above (and many more) questions.
On June 3rd at De Balie in Amsterdam, ‘angry old man’ Yash Tandon presented his new book ‘Trade is War: The West’s War Against the World’ – a new perspective in the debate on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the controversial trade agreement which the EU is currently negotiating with the US. In Europe, opponents of TTIP are mainly concerned about transparency, ever-increasing corporate power and the impact on the environment. But what does the treaty imply for North-South relations and what are the geopolitical dynamics behind it?
In 1959, Germany and Pakistan signed the first Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in the world. Without knowing, they marked a new era as many countries have followed their example since then. Currently, the international legal system that governs international investment flows consists of about 3000 BITs and other international investment agreements (IIAs). While originally these treaties were thought to be beneficial for the investor and the host state in terms of economic growth, increased foreign investment and development, many host states have suffered negative consequences instead of benefiting from them.
During the election debate between ten candidate MEPs (Members of European Parliament) yesterday evening in the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, several issues are highlighted. Candidates explain how their parties think about the use of biofuels, mandatory production criteria for clothing sold in the EU and on the approach to tax avoidance. All participants acknowledge that there are problems related to these issues, but they differ on their preferred solutions to these problems. Tempers start to run high when the free trade agreement between the U.S. and the EU (TTIP) is discussed.