- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
U.S. and EU see opening for free-trade pact
Deep financial crises changing opinions of Europeans
Question of the Day
Trade officials on both sides of the Atlantic say there is a short “political window” to negotiate a free-trade agreement between the United States and European Union.
The idea of a trans-Atlantic trade agreement, which has been floated since the Reagan administration but proved elusive over the years, was brought to the forefront earlier this year when President Obama announced his intent to start negotiations.
In the past, Europeans have balked at a trans-Atlantic trade agreement, but the global financial crisis is forcing their bloc to reconsider such a deal, because it could help spur their economy. Combined, the European Union and United States generate more than $30 trillion in annual gross domestic product, or about half the world’s output, according to the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade.
“For many years, a trans-Atlantic trade agreement seemed almost impossible,” Jose Maria Aznar, the former president of Spain, said during a trip to Washington last week to promote the trade agreement. “Not any more. An agreement is within our grasp.”
Political leaders are eager to get a deal done, but they don’t have much time. The European leaders who are pushing for an agreement have elections coming up in 2014. The U.S. Congress also faces mid-term elections in 2014. Analysts warn that the trade deal could disappear if it isn’t completed before the end of that year.
“The political window is very small,” said Dan Mahaffee, director of policy and board relations at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, a Washington-based group. “Right now, you have politicians who agree with many of the concepts, but you don’t know who’s going to get elected on both sides of the Atlantic. So they want to get it done while they know they have a friendly political environment.”
That gives trade officials just more than a year to complete negotiations. In contrast, it took the U.S. half a decade to finalize the recent trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama.
Still, both sides seem optimistic they can get a deal done, though they won’t set an official deadline for doing so.
“I think it’s the first time in which this agreement can really become a reality,” Jaime Garcia-Legaz Ponce, Spain’s secretary of state for commerce, who is helping negotiate the deal for Europe, said during a recent trip to Washington. “The reason for that is that the crisis has changed how Europeans think. Their approach to the global economy has changed.
“Europe needs to change its economy,” he added. “It needs to open up, it needs to profit from the growth that is taking place almost everywhere around the globe.”
That desire for growth is seen most in countries like Greece that have been devastated by the financial crisis. Maria Galanou, press officer at the Greek Embassy in Washington, said a trade deal would be beneficial for her country.
“You have to be optimistic about it,” Ms. Galanou said. “It’s going to take a lot of negotiations and back and forth, but there is political will on both sides.”
Mr. Ponce, whose nation is joining Germany and Britain in taking the negotiating lead on the European side, said the EU is willing to take drastic measures to push this deal through.
“We are ready to make the decisions that will be difficult — to open up our markets,” Mr. Ponce said. “We will be ready to put on the table all the issues, including the difficult ones for European countries.”
Tariffs between the U.S. and EU are already low, Mr. Ponce said, so that won’t require much discussion, though regulation issues could pose a problem.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Tim Devaney is a national reporter who covers business and international trade for The Washington Times. Previously, he worked for the Detroit News, Grand Rapids Press, Portland Press Herald and Bangor Daily News. Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dysfunction, disarray at Homeland Security management cited in IG's report
- GM's Barra to be first woman to run top American carmaker
- Treasury sells last shares in 'Government Motors'
- U.S. businesses reach out quickly to partners in Iran
- General Motors ending Chevrolet sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By David Keene
Allowing states to innovate could reduce dependency on bureaucracy
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- Border surge puts Obama legacy on immigration at stake
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
- D.C. plans to seek stay of order striking down ban on handguns in public
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq