News / Economy

EU-US Trade Talks Face Growing Hostility, Ministers Warn

The European Union's trade chief Karel De Gucht answers a question during an interview in Athens, Feb. 28, 2014.
The European Union's trade chief Karel De Gucht answers a question during an interview in Athens, Feb. 28, 2014.
Reuters
Free-trade talks between the United States and the European Union are in danger of being derailed by populist groups opposing everything from globalization to multinationals, EU ministers and business leaders said on Friday.
 
The rise of anti-EU parties, reports of U.S. spying in Europe and accusations that a trade pact would pander to big companies have combined to erode public support for a deal that proponents say would dramatically increase economic growth.
 
“We are grappling with people who are anti-European, who are anti-American, who are anti-free trade, who are anti-globalization and who are anti-multinational corporations,” Finland's minister for Europe and trade, Alexander Stubb, told his EU counterparts and business leaders at a meeting in Athens.
 
“We have an uphill battle to make the argument that this EU-U.S. free-trade agreement is a good one,” he said in remarks that were broadcast to reporters.
 
With the eurozone's economy barely out of a two-year recession, EU governments see a trade deal with the United States as the best way to create jobs. They say a pact encompassing almost half the world's economy could generate $100 billion in additional economic output a year on both sides of the Atlantic.
 
The European Union and the United States already trade almost $3 billion in goods and services each day, and by deepening economic ties, the pact could create a market of 800 million people where business could be done freely.
 
The EU's trade chief Karel De Gucht conceded that, outside business circles, there was little public awareness about the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is often known by its initials as “T-TIP”.
 
“When we talk about T-TIP, some people think it is an extraterrestrial,” De Gucht said.
 
Nils Andersen of Danish shipper A.P. Moller-Maersk , who was among chief executives invited to the debate, said there was a danger of voters being “hijacked by populist statements”.
 
Yes or No?
 
Public support is crucial because the European Parliament and the U.S. Congress must ratify the agreement once it is made.
 
EU lawmakers have already shown a willingness to reject deals they think do not have enough public support - for example the global Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) thrown out in 2012.
 
U.S.-EU trade talks initially enjoyed a warm reception when they were launched in July last year.
 
But European consumer and green groups said a deal letting firms operate freely in both the EU and the United states might let companies bypass EU safety and environmental standards.
 
The talks have also been overshadowed by widespread distrust of Washington caused by reports the United States bugged EU offices and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.
 
In the United States, President Barack Obama's efforts to speed up agreement on the deal, by renewing a 'fast-track' trade promotion authority, have faced resistance from members of his own Democratic party, some of them skeptical about the benefits of unfettered free trade.
 
The 'fast track' authority, which expired in 2007, would allow Obama to present the trade to Congress for a simple 'yes/no' vote, avoiding the risk of lawmakers picking it apart clause by clause and delaying its chances of becoming law indefinitely.
 
De Gucht said the EU's tight regulation in the sensitive issue of genetically modified food would not change, even if Brussels and Washington did sign an accord.
 
Some Europeans are worried about what impact GM crops and products - often dubbed “Frankenstein Food” - might have on health and the environment.
 
“We are not dumbing down our standards,” De Gucht said. “I will not agree to put hormone beef on the European market or change our laws on genetically modified organisms.”

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9034
JPY
USD
120.24
GBP
USD
0.6550
CAD
USD
1.2440
INR
USD
62.254

Rates may not be current.