Farmers in Croatia Hoping for TTIP Collapse

By 30 August 2016

Croatian farmers whose products are not competitive with the rest of the EU fear the possible agreement between the EU and the US.

Negotiations with the United States have virtually collapsed, and we must not give in to US demands, said German Economy Minister, Vice-Chancellor, and SPD President Sigmar Gabriel who yesterday confirmed speculation that after 14 rounds of negotiations, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the USA, was unlikely to be agreed, reports Večernji List on August 30, 2016.

Although opinions on the TTIP are still divided – reportedly the most controversial point of contention is the introduction of special courts of arbitration in case of disputes with foreign investors – a breakdown of talks would be welcomed by majority of Croatian farmers. They are already in problems due to dumping prices of milk and meat from the EU, which makes them uncompetitive. Imports of food from the United States would be a heavy blow not just to Croatian, but also to other European farmers. For example, each cow in the United States on average produces between 12 to 14 tons of milk a year, while in the EU they produce 10 tons on average. Grains are also cheaper in the United States, especially soybeans which the EU must import, as well as pork, beef and poultry. Europeans are also worried with growth stimulants for cattle and GMO.

Although Croatia has already declared itself as a “GMO free” country, with the establishment of transnational arbitration courts it would be easy for a multinational corporation like Monsanto to sue the state due to a law which it considers to be harmful to its revenues and expected profits. However, the American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia pointed out that the US would export to the EU only products which would be agreed and added that American farmers produce quality food, and not just GMO products.

If negotiations are continued, agriculture would remain one of the most important areas in the negotiations. According to a study prepared by PwC and the Centre for International Development for the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Croatian exports of goods and services to the United States could grow between 1.9 and 25.6 percent. However, NGOs have warned that the study did not cover the main issues, such as the competitiveness of Croatian companies in the EU market after the entry of US companies, as well as what would happen to Croatia’s market. And, the study was prepared by a company which is the biggest lobbyist of the American side in Brussels.