Over the last decades, international trade has played an important role in promoting growth and employment, but it has also been linked to a form of unregulated globalisation, often causing uneven and unjust results for significant parts of our societies.
The traditional approach, which argues that ‘trade is good, but we need to work on the side effects’ is outdated. In today’s changing world, ‘business as usual’ does not work. Progressives must guarantee that global trade and investment benefit the many and not the few. Progressives must ensure they promote sustainable development, reduce global poverty, neutralise structural inequalities that exclude certain genders and populations from the global economy, and raise living and welfare standards.
Today, the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and the Global Progressive Forum, in cooperation with the Progressive Alliance of the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament, the Party of the European Socialists, Solidar and the European Trade Union Confederation, have launched at the European Parliament an important new policy paper focusing on a progressive model for trade and investment.
The paper, which is titled 'For the many, not the few; A Progressive Model for Trade and Investment’, has been the outcome of a 1,5 year-long process of deliberations amongst a high-level advisory board of international experts. It aims at forging a new consensus on trade and investment within the progressive movement contingent on the principles of employment, broad-based prosperity, equality, transparency and sustainability. What is presented in the report articulates a vision that can form the core of a new, forward-looking progressive model for trade and investment.
«Between the faithful and unconditional promoters of free trade and the populist critiques defending protectionist and nationalist visions of the world, there is a critical political space for progressive forces to defend a regulated vision of globalisation»
Some of the key messages of the report are:
- Trade and investment must be embedded in a broader economic development strategy in order to create added value for our economies.
- A progressive trade and investment policy must reinforce processes on issues such as development, fair taxation, corruption, labour, and climate change, both in the World Trade Organisation and through bilateral and regional trade agreements.
- A progressive trade policy should be structured to encourage specific actions or discourage specific harmful consequences in a holistic manner.
- Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals must be the ultimate goal for trade and investment agreements.
- The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund must be renamed as the ‘European Transformation Fund’, and must be designed to support the restoration of an ambitious industrial policy.
- EU treaties should ensure that investment protection provisions do not limit the state’s legitimate right to regulate.
- The EU should also take up the responsibility for consequences that arise from its trade agreements.
- Secrecy in trade negotiations brings more harm than good - trade agreements cannot be negotiated behind closed doors.
- The preferred option for building international rules was and should remain the multilateral track.
- The EU must establish ex ante and ex post gender impact assessments when considering new trade and investment agreements.
This policy paper has been drafted by an advisory board of international experts:
- Nathalie Bernasconi , Executive Director IISD Europe, Group Director, Economic Law & Policy, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
- Carles Casajuana, SOLIDAR Board Member and former Spanish Ambassador
- Stephany Griffith Jones, Professor, Columbia University, Financial Markets Program Director, Initiative for Policy Dialogue
- Eveline Herfkens , Former Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands
- Pascal Lamy, former WTO Director General and former EU Commissioner for Trade
- Bernd Lange, MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade
- Paul Magnette, Mayor of Charleroi and former Minister-President of Wallonia (Belgium)
- Linda McAvan, MEP, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Development
- Alessia Mosca, MEP, Socialists and Democrats’ coordinator in the European Parliament Committee on International Trade
This is a joint project of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies and the Global Progressive Forum, in cooperation with the Progressive Alliance of the Socialists and Democrats at the European Parliament , the Party of the European Socialists , Solidar and the European Trade Union Confederation.