News / Economy

US-European Free Trade Talks To Begin Soon

US-European Free Trade Talks to Begin Sooni
X
February 20, 2013 1:38 AM
The United States and the European Union are likely to begin negotiations as early as June on what some are calling a ground breaking free trade agreement. International trade experts say such an agreement would have substantial economic benefits on both sides of the Atlantic. But as Mil Arcega reports, the obstacles are many and success is far from guaranteed.
US - European Free Trade Talks To Begin Soon
The United States and the European Union are likely to begin negotiations as early as June on what some are calling a "ground breaking" free trade agreement. International trade experts say such an agreement would have substantial economic benefits on both sides of the Atlantic. But the obstacles are many and success is far from guaranteed.

President Barack Obama raised the prospects of a Transatlantic free trade zone at his annual State of the Union address.

"Because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good paying Americans jobs," Obama said.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso was quick to endorse the proposal, saying a comprehensive trade deal with the U.S. would boost Europe's flagging economy.

"It is estimated that when this agreement is up and running, the European economy will get a stimulus of a half percent of our GDP, which translates into tens of billions of euros every year and tens of thousands of new jobs," Manual Barroso said.

In short -- a win-win for developed western nations.

But Sharan Burrow at the International Trade Union Confederation warns an agreement based purely on economic gain will hurt workers in the U.S. and Europe.

"Now -- if it's collaborative, if it's built on a value set that says we want  to share the wealth so tools like collective bargaining are absolutely at the core, so we get the distributional effects //  it could be very interesting," Burrow said.

The concern is that eliminating barriers to trade and investments will undermine collective bargaining agreements and shift production to areas where labor is cheapest.

But trade expert Daniel Ikenson at the Cato Institute says that should not be an issue for the U.S.

"In fact, Europe's labor standards are widely considered to be higher than ours so the U.S. labor movement would be less likely to oppose the agreement," Ikenson said.

Instead, he says negotiations could focus on harmonizing technical and regulatory standards.

"If you produce something in the United States for example -- a washing machine -- the electrical cord needs to be three feet and in the European Union, it needs to be one meter, which is three feet and three inches," Ikenson said.

Given that trade tariffs are already low between the U.S. and Europe, major hurdles are likely to revolve around subsidies -- the financial aid governments give such groups as farm producers and aircraft manufacturers to stay competitive.

But even if both sides are able to work out their differences, labor leader Sharan Burrow says more trade is not the cure for a weak global economy.

"This economy is never going to get back on track in the global context unless we can do something about stopping the attack on worker's rights -- giving the world a pay raise so people can build a capacity to live on what they earn and stabilize demand," Burrow said.

Trade between the U.S. and Europe accounts for nearly half of the world's economic output.  Analysts say greater trade would further cement the partnership and help counterbalance China's growing clout.

You May Like

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9084
JPY
USD
122.73
GBP
USD
0.6431
CAD
USD
1.2639
INR
USD
63.444

Rates may not be current.