German industry admits it overstated the benefits of TTIP

A German NGO has accused the BDI of purveying 'grossly false information' about the controversial deal


The campaign by EU employers and governments to push through the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the free trade deal known as TTIP, has suffered a setback.

The BDI, the German equivalent of the CBI and one of the deal’s biggest supporters in the country, has been forced to revise downwards the economic benefits of the TTIP deal by a factor of 10.

The BDI had said the TTIP deal would give the European Union an economic boost of about 100 billion euros – in line with other economic predictions from leading supporters of the deal.

However following ‘repeated questioning’ by Foodwatch, a German non-governmental group, the BDI had to revise downwards the estimates published on its website on the positive effect of TTIP.

“It is correct that our communication may have given the impression that an annual boost to the economy of 100 billion euros could be expected,” the BDI wrote in a letter to Foodwatch.

The letter went onto say that BDI had ‘immediately corrected’ the corresponding passage on its website with ‘additional explanations’. But ‘in no way was there a conscious campaign of false or misinformation’,  BDI insisted in the letter.

Foodwatch had accused BDI of purveying ‘grossly false information’ about the trade agreement.

According to estimates drawn up by the Centre for Economic Policy Research for the European Commission, the TTIP agreement will boost the EU’s combined gross domestic product by 0.5 per cent 10 years after its implementation, which amounts to some 119 billion Euros by 2027.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said recently that she favours concluding TTIP this year in the interests of ‘jobs and growth in Europe’.

But opposition for TTIP is in Germany is growing from Social-Democrat members of her own coalition, and from German trade unions including the DGB union confederation and the powerful IG Metall manufacturing union.

Indeed, the EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström admitted that Germany is one of the countries where opposition to the trade deal is strongest.

Among key concerns from German unions is the Investor State Protection clauses in TTIP (and the EU-Canada deal CETA) which would allow companies to sue governments in secret tribunals if they believe their interests have been compromised by legislation.

There is also concern about the effect on strong German employment protections and the long established social partnership system which gives unions a powerful voice in German companies.

In a joint statement signed by the workers representatives at the country’s main car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, Ford, Opel and Volkswagen’s divisions VW, Porsche and Audi, IG Metall said:

“We will not accept a softening of standards for environmental and consumer protection or a hollowing out of worker rights and the right to co-determination.”

Tony Burke is assistant general secretary at Unite. Follow him on Twitter

5 Responses to “German industry admits it overstated the benefits of TTIP”

  1. T Adams

    The allegation in this article that German industry
    federation BDI has been “forced to revise” their estimates of the benefits of
    TTIP is wholly misleading. The information posted on the BDI website indeed
    incorrectly stated that TTIP would bring an annual net benefit to the
    transatlantic economy of over €100 billion. In reality, the independent study
    referenced in this article and commissioned by the EU shows that the agreement
    is likely to boost the EU and US economies by some €119 billion over the next
    two decades. Rather than revising its estimates, BDI is merely correcting a
    mistake it made on their website – something that this article hardly makes
    clear. Moreover, the European Parliament’s own analysis of this study found
    that in fact this was a conservative analysis of TTIP’s potential benefits. The
    emergence of a broad, fact-based debate on TTIP – rather than one based on
    myths and false allegations – will be crucial to ensuring that a balanced and
    ambitious TTIP agreement is concluded which best meets the needs of EU
    citizens. Indeed, responsible and fact-based journalism is one of the
    prerequisites to a healthy debate among all stakeholders on TTIP.

  2. Dave Stewart

    If the people supporting and negotiating TTIP did so in an open and transparent way then it would be a lot easier to have an open and transparent debate about it. Sadly a great deal of effort has been made to keep the whole thing secret and out of the public domain as much as possible.

  3. tome

    Indeed, the only reason anyone ever has to hide something, is because its in their interest. Our governments have been replaced by corporations right under our bloody nose, and sadly, I doubt their is anything other than fierce protest that can make it right again.

  4. Leon Wolfeson

    No, the best thing for the EU is scrapping TTIP and taking a hard line against agreements not negotiated in the open – regardless of the content of TTIP, frankly.

    And in fact the “boost” is purely to certain American IP-wielding companies, at the expense of the EU. It fails to account for trillions lost to that sort of enforcement as well, even within America. There’s also collateral losses to freedoms.

  5. davidhill

    At long last, some of our politicians in the EU (in this case today in the UK) are just starting to realise that the TTIP is good for the multi-nationals profits and insatiable greed, but a disaster for 90%+ of the people, as it takes away the people’s democracy to challenge the economic and financial might of big business, and basically their jobs.

    Indeed Robert Reich, the former US secretary-of-state has stated that the last trade deal that the US made, over 700,000 American jobs were lost to the cheaper low-wage economies. But, this time as the TTIP is much larger (indeed the largest that can ever be created by the multi-nationals), some economists have predicted between 1,500,000 to 2,000.000 jobs will go throughout the EU (the UK through the NHS et al over a quarter of these increased unemployment projected dire statistics – cutting labour costs is the first thing that corporate consolidation does). And they say that greater economics creates more jobs. Tell us another lie please or better still, come clean about the true ramifications of TTIP on the people Mr. Cameron and Mr. Miliband, as both have already signed up to it behind closed doors. Therefore no matter if you vote ‘blue’ or ‘red’, the conservative and labour leaders want it and it will happen.

    Unfortunately the TTIP once signed is irrevocable and we can never come out of it once signed up to, or if we tried, we would get sued by the largest corporations in the world for loss of the guaranteed profit that TTIP guarantees for corporates – you couldn’t make it up if you tried, but totally true. Basically such a contract could bankrupt the UK and all EU nations over the coming decades and make the rich and power even more richer and powerful than they are today. Unfortunately on the other side of the coin, the vast majority of people would be impoverished, for as Newton said in words to the effect, for every action there is an equal action in reverse. Glad to see therefore that some politicians are waking up to the realities of selling your soul to the mighty corporation and the TTIP will be the ultimate icing on the cake.

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