Much ado about the US-EU free trade area

They were abbreviated to NTA and NTMA, TAD, TED and Tafta. Initiatives designed to deepen the economic relationship between America and Europe. They remained nothing but initiatives, disappearing into oblivion. Now the next attempt has come along.

Industry lobbyists on both sides of the Atlantic can hardly stay in their seats from sheer anticipation. Business wants it, the politicians are going along with it, and in principle, free trade is a good thing. Still, this most recent plan seems likely to meet great scepticism.

If Europe and the US were to agree a deal among themselves on liberalising trade, all the other states would automatically be discriminated against. The great danger is that, in the end, there would merely be a redirection of trade flows, not the creation of new ones. Moreover, the rest of the world could interpret a transatlantic agreement as an “exclusion, maybe even a blackmailing of third parties,” complains Langhammer.

The Economics Ministry in Berlin stresses that that is why the Europeans would ensure that the agreement remains open for other countries to join. An agreement that took an immense effort to reach, however, will hardly be unpicked again for new entrants; ultimately, the “sink or swim” principle will be laid on the table.

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