Transatlantic Trade’s Transformative Potential

A "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" between the US and Europe has the potential to transform global trade and multilateral organizations to the benefit of all. But this opportunity could be squandered, owing to the short-term mindset that now encumbers the West and the multilateral organizations that it dominates.

NEWPORT BEACH – After instant and seemingly coordinated fanfare in Europe and the United States, the proposal for a European Union-US free-trade area has been generating little media attention. There are three reasons for this, and all three highlight broader constraints on good national economic policymaking and productive cross-border coordination.

In his “State of the Union” address in February, US President Barack Obama proposed a “comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” with Europe based on trade that is “fair and free.” His administration regards this as part of a comprehensive approach to generating “good-paying American jobs.”

Obama’s bold proposal received an immediate and enthusiastic reception in Europe. Taking to the airwaves within hours, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy called the proposal “ground-breaking.” Arguing that it could increase Europe’s annual economic growth rate by half a percentage point, they declared that formal negotiations would start quickly.

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