Friday, May 24, 2013

US-EU Trade Negotiations Are Not Driven by Ideational Factors

. Friday, May 24, 2013

Reading this update on the possible US-EU trade deal that Sarah and I wrote about previously, I am struck by two things:

1. French film subsidies are not going to ruin the chances of a deal, particularly since the US film industry takes advantage of tax credits and other subsidies as well (albeit at the state level, not the federal level). I have no idea why the FT led with that, except that . The biggest potential roadblock for this deal has always been agriculture, and it remains agriculture. That said, even these issues can be overcome. US agriculture wants to sell GMOs and hormone-pumped meat to Europe. Europe doesn't want that, and is unlikely to change its mind. So? Currently, EU law bans European growth of GMOs, but allows some imports. This is an okay position to be in for American farmers which grow GMOs. So all that has to happen is that the status quo is maintained, and this issue can be resolved as well.

Some of the rest of this just sounds silly. US wants Europe to not insist on "geographical indications" being allowed on cheese? I presume this means labels such as "A Product of France". This, again, is an issue which can be overcome fairly easily: just remind American cattlemen that if this becomes a precedent they won't be able to advertise "U.S. beef" and they'll balance the cheesemakers' right out.

2. Nothing in the proceedings suggests that the ideational turn in IPE studies of trade politics is beneficial for understanding real-world events. Instead, we see interest groups lobbying their representatives to get their concerns on the agenda, while the broader public barely notices. We see these groups forming along factoral and sectoral grounds, just as we'd expect. The standard materialist story works far better than... whatever sociotropic story is supposed to have replaced it.

*Yes, the link in that sentence goes to something called Beef Magazine. No, I wasn't aware that existed until now.

2 comments:

Vladimir said...

I may be missing something here but aren't the geographical indicators more prominent when used to refer to regions as opposed to states? I'm thinking along the lines of brandy vs. congac but I think some foodies in your readership may be aware of sorts of cheese that are identified with specific regions and thus have become part of the marketing approach. In that sense "made in France" is not as powerful a marketing tool as the regional distinction. Beef vs. cheese isn't a fair comparison, there isn't the sense on the part of consumers that raising beef is a craft like making cheese presumably is.

Sarah Bauerle said...

I'm glad you wrote about this. I saw this story this morning and thought about our previous post. As way of clarification, I'd second Vladimir's point. I think what matters here is that the US market plays fast and loose with labels that in Europe are geographically bound (parmigiano reggiano would be a classic example). That said, I still think this deal will be made. All of this is just bargaining bluster.

US-EU Trade Negotiations Are Not Driven by Ideational Factors
 
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