EU, U.S. to Launch Talks on Comprehensive Trade Deal

Germany's main stock exchange at Frankfurt. The proposed EU-U.S. trade agreement would strengthen the world's largest economic relationship and contribute to the development of global trading rules.
Germany’s main stock exchange at Frankfurt. The proposed EU-U.S. trade agreement would strengthen the world’s largest economic relationship and contribute to the development of global trading rules.

By Stephen Kaufman
IIP Staff Writer
Washington,
February 13, 2013

In his first State of the Union address since winning re-election in November, President Obama proposed a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union that would strengthen what is already the world’s largest economic relationship.

“We will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union — because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs,” the president told U.S. lawmakers February 12.

The goal of the arrangement is to support mutually beneficial job creation, economic growth and international competitiveness.

European Commission President José Manuel Barroso told reporters in Brussels February 13 that talks to create the free-trade alliance would begin by the end of June, and that the negotiations “will set a standard not only for our future bilateral trade and investment, including regulatory issues, but also for the development of global trade rules.”

Economic ties between the United States and the European Union account for half of the world’s economic output and nearly $1 trillion, or one-third, of the global trade in goods and services. In a February 13 joint statement from Obama, Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, the three leaders said they are committed to making the economic relationship “an even stronger driver of our prosperity.”

The proposed partnership would advance trade and investment liberalization and address regulatory and other nontariff barriers.

“Through this negotiation, the United States and the European Union will have the opportunity not only to expand trade and investment across the Atlantic, but also to contribute to the development of global rules that can strengthen the multilateral trading system,” the statement says.

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the trade deal would address costly “behind the border” nontariff barriers that are impeding the flow of goods and services, and promote greater compatibility in regulations and standards.

The agreement could affect global trade by developing rules and principles on issues such as “market-based disciplines for state-owned enterprises, combating discriminatory localization barriers to trade, and promoting the global competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises,” USTR said in a February 13 press release.

The proposed deal follows more than a year of exploratory discussions in a high-level U.S. and EU working group on jobs and growth. The group consulted with business, environmental, consumer, labor, government and other key stakeholders in developing its recommendations.

In its final report, the working group “determined that an agreement that addresses a broad range of bilateral trade and investment policies, as well as global issues of common interest, could generate substantial economic benefits on both sides of the Atlantic,” USTR said.