Shipowners Caught in the Middle of Free Trade Battle

Photo: Danish Shipowners’ Association

By Aiswarya Lakshmi

Protectionism and long hauled free trade
negotiations can be an expensive battle for the Danish
shipowners, if the market outside the European Union are not
included in free trade negotiations.

The Danish Shipowners' Association hosted a verbal rumble between
the Danish Social Democrat Ole Christensen and the Belgian
Socialist Maria Arena from the European Parliament at the
European Shipping Week Tuesday afternoon.

Lately free trade has been widely debated in the European
Parliament due to the vote for the Canadian free trade agreement
CETA. The social democratic group S&D has had internal
disagreemeents on whether to vote for or against the agreement
that was recently passed. The two members of the European
Parliament brought this debate to the free trade fight club
Tuesday afternoon.

Maria Arena disagrees with the way CETA has been passed. She is
also known for her opposition to the TTIP negotiations between
the EU and the US. She claims that the free trade negotiations
lack transparency and are agreements from the past. Maria Arena
suggests a modernisation of the free trade agreements build on
transparency, democracy, responsibility and solidarity.

"They call CETA a free trade agreement of the future, but it is
an agreement of the past. It was negotiated before 2014, and
today a new parliament must pass the agreement without having any
say in it," says Maria Arena and adds: "Some day I would like
free trade agreements with China and the US, but I will not
accept agreements of the past, where we are not being heard. That
is not respectful to the members of the parliament."

Two thirds of Danish shipping is outside of Europe. Thus the
Danish Social Democrat Ole Christensen understands the Danish
shipowners' need for more transatlantic free trade agreements.

"Free trade is good. CETA is the best free trade agreement ever.
I want to create safe and good jobs in Europe. We do that with
free trade agreements," says Ole Christensen and continues: "I
understand why investors on both sides of the Atlantic are afraid
of the politicians. The investors cannot be sure as to how the
politicians will regulate the market in the future ahead."

The Danish Shipowners' Association supports more free trade
agreements across the Atlantic as well as in Africa. Free trade
agreements are necessary in order for Denmark to keep its lead as
one of the greatest shipping nations in the world. CEO Anne H.
Steffensen also participated in the free trade fight club.

"Shipping is about connectivity and creating jobs. We are
dependent on the market access outside the EU, and we are looking
to the EU to facilitate free trade with these markets," says Anne
H. Steffensen.

Mar 1, 2017

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