TTIP for growth and jobs

Economy Sweden is an export-dependent country and a strong supporter of free trade. A free trade agreement with the United States is important if we are to create a greater number of competitive jobs in Sweden.

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The TTIP can be one tool

A free trade agreement with the United States is important if we are to create a greater number of competitive jobs in Sweden. Neither the Government nor the Swedish Trade Union Confederation subscribes to the view that the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – TTIP – between the EU and the US have failed or should be abandoned. There are few tools that can genuinely increase the number of jobs – new progressive and comprehensive trade agreements are one such tool.

In the negotiations the Government is standing up for the interests of wage earners, for the environment, and for human and animal health. Neither the Government nor the Swedish Trade Union Confederation will accept an agreement that reduces protection of the climate, environment or health, or that threatens democratic decision-making. For us, this is a fundamental premise of a new free trade agreement, and the Government will undertake scrupulous impact analyses to ensure that this is the case when the agreement is ready. Commitment to improving the agreement has also had an effect. The EU is negotiating the TTIP based on a mandate approved by all of the Member States. The negotiations have largely conformed to our demands. These complex negotiations are not a hundred-metre sprint: they are more like a marathon. Just because they are difficult does not mean there is any reason to give up.

Economic development and security go hand in hand

The political winds blowing against free trade in both Europe and the US are born of serious frustration among people who feel that development is failing them. If your experience of free trade and increased global competition is that they are likely to leave you unemployed, your family high and dry, and jeopardise your children’s future, then it is not surprising that you want to put a stop to this trend.

We understand that frustration. Essentially, it is about increased inequalities, a lack of security and inadequate welfare. Stagnating or even declining real wages are a reality for many employees in large parts of the EU and the US. At the same time, the safety nets for those who lose their jobs are often too weak.

But directing anger at trade and development is not only the wrong approach – it is a dangerous approach. The Swedish model shows that development and security go hand in hand. In Sweden, the labour movement has realised that structural transformation of the labour market is good for workers. Here, workers compete on the basis of knowledge and skills, which means that globally competitive businesses are needed. Without a free trade agreement, Sweden risks missing out on jobs, and losing out to global competition. In the long term, inefficient and unprofitable operations are devastating for wage earners and for our society.

But unemployment insurance that provides secure income protection, and an education system and labour market policy that can offer those who lose their job another chance in the labour market are also prerequisites. Secure people are not afraid of progress.

Swedish export would benefit from the TTIP

Sweden is an export-dependent country and a strong supporter of free trade.The structural transformation that Sweden has undergone in recent decades has made us one of the world’s leading innovation and industrial nations. Since 2014, 120 000 new jobs have been created in Sweden. Today, 1.3 million Swedes are directly or indirectly employed thanks to our exports. Volvo Cars recently announced that it is to take on 400 new employees in Sweden. This is gratifying news. With a free trade agreement such as the TTIP, exports could grow – and the number of jobs along with them.

Swedish businesses would find it easier to penetrate the US market with their products, and would be able to employ more people. The TTIP can help cut through red tape and overlapping bureaucracy. At the heart of the negotiations is the fact that the US and the EU have different regulatory frameworks, which should not have to mean unnecessary restrictions on trade. A free trade agreement would also increase investment between the EU and the US, which is an important factor if businesses are to grow and develop.

Those who now want to halt efforts to reach a free trade agreement between two of the world’s largest economies, the EU and the US, need to answer one question: how are we to create a greater number of competitive jobs without increased trade?

Ann Linde (Swedish Social Democratic Party) Minister for EU Affairs and Trade

Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson President of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation