Monday

25th Mar 2019

Obama gives green light to EU-US trade deal

US President Barack Obama has given the green light for comprehensive trade talks between the EU and the US, paving the way for what could become the largest single free trade zone in the world.

Delivering his annual State of the Union address to the US Congress on Tuesday (12 February), he told legislators 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."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Obama (c): 'Trade that is free and fair across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs' (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

Although the move does not come as a surprise, it is a coup for EU diplomats who have been working behind the scenes since November 2011 on preparing the ground for the bilateral free trade agreement.

A deal not just on the elimination of tariff barriers but also on harmonising regulatory and technical standards for products could generate 2 percent of GDP.

The US and the EU already have a huge trade relationship, worth $2.7 billion per day in goods and services, but since November 2011, they have been exploring ways to deepen ties amid rising global competition, particularly from China.

Estimates by the European Commission indicate that a transatlantic trade partnership could be worth around €275 billion per year and lead to the creation of 2 million new jobs.

Joao Vale de Ameida, the EU's ambassador in Washington DC said he is "very happy" with the news, adding that "we will have a much greater influence if we are together."

For his part, Finnish Europe minister Alexander Stubb, commented that it was "good news for the world economy, growth and jobs."

Meanwhile, Dutch Liberal MEP Marietje Schaake called on the EU commission to immediately present proposals to the European Parliament for a formal negotiating mandate.

Although tariff barriers between the two sides are already low - under 3 per cent in most cases - some economic sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing are heavily subsidised on both sides of the Atlantic.

US and EU officials are also expected to focus on harmonising regulation and technical standards.

The EU is currently devoting heavy political capital to bilateral trade accords.

A free trade agreement was agreed with Singapore in December, while a deal with Canada is expected to be completed imminently.

Negotiations with Japan are also expected to be launched in Tokyo in April, meaning that the EU will spend the next year brokering trade deals with two of the world's largest economies.

The bilateral deals come after trade talks at the multilateral level stalled following the collapse of the Doha round of World Trade Organisation negotiations in 2005.

The financial crisis and the recession later prompted a series of protectionist measures to safeguard national economies.

The WTO says that only 18 percent of the trade restricting measures adopted by G20 countries since 2008 have been scrapped, amounting to a total loss of 3 percent of world trade - equivalent to some €350 billion.

Obama presses EU leaders on growth

A weekend summit of G8 leaders stressed the need for the eurozone to focus on keeping Greece inside the euro. But plans are reportedly being drafted to deal with its potential exit.

2015 target date for EU-US trade deal

EU and US negotiators want to have a transatlantic trade and investment deal in place by 2015, but French politicians are wary of the pact.

Analysis

From trade tariffs to trust – TTIP a year on

When political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic gave negotiators the green light to start talks on a Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP), it was widely seen as an economic 'win-win' - a debt free economic stimulus.

News in Brief

  1. May admits 'not sufficient support' for third Brexit vote
  2. Orban vows more EU 'information campaigns'
  3. May 'effectively out of power', says Scottish leader
  4. May under pressure to resign over Brexit endgame
  5. Million march against Brexit, five million sign petition
  6. Italy first G7 country to sign China Belt and Road deal
  7. EU leaders at summit demand more effort on disinformation
  8. Report: Corbyn to meet May on Monday for Brexit talks

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Latest News

  1. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  2. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  3. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  4. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  5. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean
  6. Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK
  7. EU avoids Brexit crash, sets new date for 12 April
  8. Campaigning commissioners blur the lines

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us