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

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9247
JPY
USD
118.78
GBP
USD
0.6657
CAD
USD
1.2190
INR
USD
62.395

Rates may not be current.