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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.