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 Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7492
JPY
USD
102.27
GBP
USD
0.5960
CAD
USD
1.0950
INR
USD
61.300

Rates may not be current.