Roll Call: “Bonker and Stearns: US-EU Trade Agreement as Opportunity or Peril?”

The Hon. Don Bonker (D-WA, 75-89)By Don Bonker and Cliff Stearns
April 25, 2013, 2:38 p.m.

President Barack Obama’s brief reference to a trans-Atlantic trade agreement in his State of the Union address was greeted with high-fives throughout Europe and signaled an obvious commitment to removing trade barriers and increasing investments to boost economic growth in both countries.

Typically such trade pacts are launched in the spirit of lofty goals and mutual enthusiasm, but ultimately they become contentious and controversial, and difficult to have ratified.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is the largest trade initiative since the World Trade Organization was created in the 1980s (Uruguay Round) and, if approved, will become the world’s largest trade zone.

It could also prove timely given the global challenges facing both the United States and European Union. The latter’s economy is coping with a threatening financial crisis and enduring recession while U.S. growth is lagging in investments and job creation. Removing trade barriers, it is believed, will jump-start the respective economies by generating greater demand and supply and improving market access, plus the added value that comes with economic cooperation. All this at a time when China, India, Brazil and other developing countries are emerging as major forces and serious competitors in the global economy.

So why should a trade agreement be so difficult? […]

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