U.S., EU kick off TTIP negotiations. Or is it T-TIP?

The first round of talks for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a trade negotiation between the United States and the European Union, began July 8 in Washington, D.C. and will run throughout the week.

The European Commission recently posted a multipage TTIP fact sheet with frequently-asked questions from their constituents, such as “Will European supermarkets be filled with meat from American animals fed with hormones?”  (Spoiler:  No.) The White House posted a more modest one-pager describing T-TIP’s potential benefit for Americans . . . wait a minute.  “T-TIP?”  Where did the hyphen come from?

That’s right.  Somewhere in the months leading up to these much-anticipated negotiations, the U.S. apparently made the aggressive move of changing the name.  (Compare acting USTR Marantis’ March 20 letter to Congress with the June 17 White House fact sheet).

Newly appointed USTR Froman seems to have followed the President’s lead, somewhat.  (See Froman’s July 8 remarks, using both “TTIP” and “T-TIP”).  However, no one appears to have told the Europeans at all (see the EC’s July 8 press release).

This bold unilateral maneuver is all the more perplexing, because “T-TIP,”  at best, sounds vaguely like a codename for US embassy wiretaps, and, at worst, like some kind of prophylactic.

The hyphen makes no grammatical sense, unless we are meant to believe that “transatlantic-trade” is now a word (a word whose definition excludes, for example, trade with the entire continent of Africa).  Also, it only aggravates the discord between the naming conventions for “T-TIP” and for the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”).

Is the surprise hyphen a U.S. power play?  Or the work of a rogue White House press agent?  Do we now have a federal imprimatur to hyphenate however we want?

Stay-tuned.

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