Transatlantic Free Trade?

The international order's center of gravity is shifting to Asia, but Europe and the US can act to ensure their global roles. A transatlantic free-trade area would give both economies – still the world's largest – a significant dose of confidence, while boosting competitiveness, growth, and job creation.

MADRID – This month, the United States National Intelligence Council released a sobering report entitled Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. Most important, according to the authors, if current trends continue, Asia could soon surpass North America and Europe in global power. It will have a higher GDP, larger population, higher military spending, and more technological investment. In this geopolitical context, Europe and the US need each other more than ever, making greater transatlantic cooperation crucial.

This seems to be the approach that inspired outgoing US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent speech at the Brookings Institution on US-European relations. Given the shift in global power and the prospect of US energy self-sufficiency as domestic hydrocarbon output booms, America is trying to adapt its foreign policy to the new multi-polar international order. And, although Asia is now America’s strategic priority, Europe is still the partner with which Americans have the most in common. “I want to be clear,” Clinton noted. “Our reorientation toward Asia is not a withdrawal from Europe.”

The US, according to Clinton, hopes that Europe will follow suit, so that Asia is seen not only as a market, but also as a focus of common strategic action. But, beyond that, as the US and Europe seek to ensure their global roles, cooperation between them is more important than ever. So now is the time for a bold initiative: the launch of a US-European Union free-trade agreement.

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