President Barack Obama on Tuesday called for talks on a far-reaching free trade agreement with the 27 nations of the European Union, throwing his weight behind a deal that would encompass half the world’s economic output.
“Tonight I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs,” Obama said in his annual State of the Union speech.
The United States and the EU already have the largest economic relationship in the world, and one of the most complicated. A pact would unite the United States, the world’s largest economy, with four other countries in the top ten: Germany, France, Britain and Italy.
Faced with slow growth on both sides of the Atlantic and rising competition from China and other emerging economies, the long-time allies in late 2011 began looking at ways to build on their existing relationship.
Last week, EU leaders endorsed trade talks with the United States, putting it at the top of a larger agenda that includes negotiations with Canada andJapan.
Two-way goods trade between the United States and the EU now totals more than $600 billion annually. Services trade, including sales by majority-owned U.S. or EU companies in each other’s market, adds about $1.2 billion.
U.S. companies have invested around $1.9 trillion in production, distribution and other operations in the EU, far more than in China or anywhere else in the world. EU companies have invested about $1.6 trillion in the United States.
Since most tariffs between the United States and the EU are already low, reducing regulatory barriers to trade in areas like agriculture and chemicals is expected to be the most challenging aspect of the talks.
The EU recently lifted bans on imports of U.S. live swine and beef washed with lactic acid to help build confidence that it can address U.S. agricultural concerns.
Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk earlier on Tuesday, welcomed those steps but said any agreement must also reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, poultry treated with chlorine washes to kill pathogens and meat from animals fed the growth stimulant ractopamine.
“A strong, comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the EU has the potential to create significant good-paying jobs for Americans,” but negotiations will be tough, Representative Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, said in a statement welcoming Obama’s announcement.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an early proponent of trade talks with the EU, applauded the news and urged swift negotiation of a high-standard pact.
The U.S.-EU talks also are expected to tackle new areas, such as setting rules to govern the free flow of information across borders. That is an increasingly important priority for big U.S. Internet companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon but could be hard for EU members France andGermany to accept because of privacy concerns.
Meanwhile, the two sides are locked in a long-running battle at the World Trade Organization over government support for Boeing, the largest the U.S. exporter, and its European rival, Airbus.
That dispute threatens to erupt into a transatlantic trade war in coming years unless the two sides can work out a negotiated settlement.
Obama also reaffirmed his commitment to talks with ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region on a free trade pact called the Trans-Pacific Partnership that negotiators hope to finish this year after more than three years of bargaining.
Talks on the U.S.-EU accord are expected to begin by June. A successful conclusion to both negotiations would secure Obama’s reputation as a free trade president after what critics say was a slow start in his first term.
Camp and the Senate Finance Committee leaders also said they planned to push this year for renewal of “trade promotion authority,” a law that expired in 2007 that allowed the White House to submit trade deals to Congress for a straight yes-or-no vote without any amendments.
That legislation has long been considered essential in persuading other countries to put their best offers on the table in trade talks with the United States.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Jim Loney)
6 thoughts on “Obama calls for U.S. free trade pact with European Union”
Where’s Dorner when we need him?
““Tonight I am announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union because trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs,” Obama said in his annual State of the Union speech.”
ROLMFAO!! BAHAHAAHA!!! What jobs? Define American jobs, Ocrapo! Enough with the corporate bullet points and explain how working with the EU and sending our jobs and money over there will create jobs for America?
More like you are trying to connect American trade with the EU since you have already connected it with Mexico and China. All a part of your ONE WORLD SOCIALIST/COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT ORDER in regards to TRADE, you sick traitorous, treasonous bastard!
This guy sickens me beyond all. What I wouldn’t give to punch that son of a bitch in the face.
Well, there goes the rest of our jobs!
Our news jobs will be a restoration of America that could last for the rest of our lives. Talk about Job Security! haha
But but I thought we were recovering .. Bernanke said we were in the home stretch . Does this mean a few of us are still employed?
Recovery my a$$.
He wants us all on our dam knees begging .
I like standing much better! The view is excellent!
Not one more inch . Free trade is a load of BS .
as a European i can say pretty safely that all we export is food and high-end cars.
and i doubt America imports our food.
i honestly cant remember seeing “made in the U.S.A.” on anything since the mid 80’s.
so i dont know what the republicrats think they are going to export!
no, i think it’s a smokescreen for something i keep hearing about on RT about transatlantic patent & copyright agreements.
one other thing:
“any agreement must also reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, poultry treated with chlorine washes to kill pathogens and meat from animals fed the growth stimulant ractopamine.”
NOT HAPPENING – NO WAY.
the people of europe will destroy any political group that try’s any of this – and any company behind it.
and when i say destroy – think fire.
Peter or should I call you “spotty d#@k” where ya been? I now understand, yer a fkn brit you run your cck sucker and then go away to reappear another day(Im not a poet the words just flew out that way)shouldnt the likes of you be out waving at yer old hag montibaum or one of her inbred whelps, Is your hole of an island filled with down syndrome looking mofos or what I havent been hanging around here very long but I bet a buffalo nickel yer ass or lip isnt wanted in AMERICA.You say the dumbest shit ,argue like a fukn unarmed slave and by your own words DONT HAVE A CLUE what freedom means or how freemen behave.Then you come on here advocating ARSON against gubberment businesses for shame you mouthy dick. I am going to suggest that one of the M’s come talk to you,by the by how much do you get paid to put forth the childish nonsense you post, which tribal abc gang signs your chk cause U are overpaid if its “outcome based” All of europe seems to be collapsing shame you arent ALLOWED to put your insane “I shoot back sticker on your car cause on your shitty island you are only allowed to be VICTUMS not free men are you still allowed scissors?
Are you saps I mean chaps still even allowed to have flammable items,they could be terrorizer tools ya know ban matches and lighters,the bobbies or is that boobies can lite your grills after they confiscate your bics( thats a lighter in case your dumber than you sound)