News / Economy

European Leaders Welcome Free-Trade Plan

President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President John Biden and House Speaker John Boehner delivers his State of the Union speech Feb. 12, 2013
President Barack Obama, flanked by Vice President John Biden and House Speaker John Boehner delivers his State of the Union speech Feb. 12, 2013
Michael Scaturro

President Barack Obama’s push for a trans-Atlantic free-trade agreement in his annual State of the Union address is being welcomed by European leaders, but it could be years before an agreement is in place.

Though it was only a 15-second snippet in President Obama's hour-long address Tuesday, the trade proposal could mean a new chapter in U.S. relations with the European Union.

"Tonight I'm announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive trans-Atlantic 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," Obama said.

The E.U. and the U.S. aim to begin formal talks on a wide-ranging trade partnership in June.

In Brussels Wednesday, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said the agreement has the potential to generate tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

"A future deal between the world's two most important economic powers will be a game changer," Barroso said. "Together, we will form the largest free-trade zone in the world."

European Commission trade negotiator Karel de Gucht hopes a deal can be reached in the next two years. Negotiators are expected to first deal with reducing tariffs, then will try to align regulatory systems around common safety and product standards.

"If we are in a position to set standards together with the United States, they have a good chance to become the global standards," Gucht says. "And that's of the foremost importance for our industry."




The deal has been greeted warmly by some members of Congress and the international business community.

European officials have wanted a free trade pact for 30 years, according to Fred Irwin of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany.

"The business relationship between the U.S. and the E.U. is very positive at the moment," he said. "But the free trade zone outlined in President Obama's State of the Union Address would reduce expenses because it would eliminate tariffs and encourage trade between the two regions, the E.U. and the United States."

However, there are some doubts in the United States. On Wednesday, the two senior U.S. senators on the committee that oversees trade wrote to the U.S. Trade Representative that any deal would have to grant U.S. farmers access to Europe's markets. In addition, they said a deal could not weaken U.S. regulatory standards and must protect intellectual property rights.

European farmers have traditionally been very influential in keeping tight trade restrictions on agricultural products. Disagreements on genetically modified foods and environmental standards between the two sides will also have to be hammered out before any deal can go into effect.

Even if talks start in June, it could be years before a deal goes into force. It took more than six years to enact the U.S. free trade agreement with South Korea, and four years to complete a deal with Canada and Mexico.

But E.U. officials say they're optimistic that the political will exists in Washington to made the deal happen.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 15, 2013 3:18 PM
The EU has a high number of regulatory standards, including carbon trading related issues; they are not tarrifs but can in fact put companies at a disadvantage, as if they were tarrifs, if the companies are not working and complying with those standards to access EU markets. The production outputs of the EU, in the larger EU nations, are optimized to meet high outputs under those standards, and may become trade disadvantages for US based production facilities. A very in depth professional analysis is in order, to ensure that US production facilities will not lose more internal markets to EU producers; which will translate into more unemployment. This type of analysis does not appear to have been done wrt China, which ended up under-cutting US producers, shutting them down, with a tremendous loss of well paying US jobs, and having a negative effect in NA beyond the US.
We see the EU production issues, causing the total loss of internal markets, which are absorved by the large EU economies, in the smaller nations of the EU. These losses lead to ever growing unemployment in those smaller producing countries.
Globalization has been a complete bust for US/Canadian workers, their families, and it has devastated entire communities and towns. Canada is becoming a natural resource pool and a service based economy; and the US is even worse off, in terms of employment prospects.
Any trade deals must not only balance trade $ and be good for billionaires, but they need to be good for production facility outputs, to ensure a growth in well paying employment, and not end up in more unemployment.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7537
JPY
USD
103.79
GBP
USD
0.6032
CAD
USD
1.0957
INR
USD
60.522

Rates may not be current.