European Union on Board for Trans-Atlantic Trade Negotiations

Feb 11, 2013

Update: In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced that talks will begin with the European Union on a Trans-Atlantic trade and investment agreement. U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for International Affairs Myron Brilliant applauded the news, "We have long called for such a pact to eliminate tariffs, ensure compatible regulatory regimes, and address investment, services, and procurement"

I wonder if editors from the Washington Post and Bloomberg got together for brunch over the weekend to celebrate the news that the European Union wants a free trade agreement with the United States:

Major exporters Germany and Britain won support from the rest of the European Union at a summit in Brussels to reach a deal with Washington that many leaders hope will help Europe pull out of its banking and debt crises.

In their final statement, leaders said the European Union gave "its support for a comprehensive trade agreement" with the United States.

"We need to move forward," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said at the end of the summit, referring to the United States. "The Commission will push ahead to realize the full potential of an integrated transatlantic trade agreement," said Barroso, who heads the EU executive responsible for negotiating the European Union's trade agreements.

Because they both came out with editorials backing a European Union – United States trade agreement.

Bloomberg writes that an agreement “would increase trade by more than $120 billion within five years.” The Washington Post points out that “The gains would be even larger if the United States and Europe can agree to remove non-tariff regulatory barriers to trade.” Both cite U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s estimates that only removing tariffs would improve economic growth by nearly $180 billion over five years. A more-extensive trans-Atlantic trade agreement like that being considered would boost growth even more.

An agreement would also improve EU-US strategic interests. The Post writes, “[T]he United States and Europe still produce more than half of the global economic output. It is in their mutual interest to unify standards and regulations so as to jointly shape the flow of trade.”

The U.S. Chamber and its counterpart Business Europe have been working to bring both sides together to negotiate a trade agreement. Business Europe President Juergen Thumann sent President Obama a letter urging action on a trade agreement writing, “[W]e hope that you will give a strong signal and your political support to the launch of EU-U.S. trade and investment negotiations.”

Earlier this month in a speech in Germany, Vice President Joe Biden was confident about negotiations beginning saying, “This is within our reach.” Now is the time to grab this opportunity.

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