If we really want sustainability, we have to learn how to deal with differences in trade.
A few weeks ago, agricultural export figures came out. Approximately 94 billion euros and more than last year. That feels like a good report mark. But the minister was more careful than last year. « Yes, export is a wonderful achievement, but I think that agriculture is about other things than export, » she said. I don’t really know what we want anymore. Yes, of course, circular agriculture, but what kind of trade is it?
The question is urgent because there is a lot going on as far as trade is concerned: There is the trade agreement with Canada (CETA), which has already been started provisionally, before the Court has given a definitive opinion on it. Furthermore, the European Council still has to decide on the Mercosur treaty. Negotiations are also ongoing with Australia, New Zealand and Philippines. It is possible that TTIP will be restarted, an EU trade agreement with the US.
The more openness, the better
From a merchant’s mentality, the more openness the better. A lot of companies are also in it, I think. But there is now a growing coalition of objectioners. I think they have a legitimate point. They argue that food products in countries such as the US and Canada are produced at significantly lower animal welfare, environmental, labor and food safety standards than in the EU. In the absence of import duties or the introduction of tariff-free import quotas, these products enter the European Union market at low prices. This leads to unfair competition and is « killing » for rigging circular agriculture.
I agree with the objectioners that it is consistent and fair to include these things from now on. That is difficult because it actually does not fit well into the framework that is now used for trade agreements. Countries will also oppose such « discrimination ».
Yes, of course, circular agriculture, but what kind of trade is it?
If we really want sustainability, we have to learn how to deal with differences in trade. They must then be mapped objectively and fairly. This applies in particular to animal products where the standards often differ. And then correctly apply the non-discrimination principle: we must not bring in what is not possible here! Otherwise it would be crying.
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