tradeLast year, we looked at the idea of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the US and the EU as a way to boost economies on both sides of the Atlantic. We’ve also had several commenters (including PatrickChristosPablo and  David) suggest that unrestrained globalization and a poorly-regulated laissez-faire approach to free markets was ultimately responsible for the current crisis. So would opening up the EU’s borders to even more free trade help Europe recover, or is globalization part of the problem?

Given that there are now reports that a transatlantic Free Trade Agreement is seriously being considered, we thought it might be interesting to revisit this topic. Debating Europe  recently interviewed Pia Olsen Dyhr, the Danish Minister for Trade and Investment. Would she agree with Drew, one of our commenters, that “liberalised trade between [the EU and the US] would be great“?

We also had a comment from Foreign Affairs blogger Clyde Prestowitz, who argued, when we interviewed him last year, that FTAs were damaging multilateralism and “reverting back to the 1930s with the spaghetti bowl of bilateral trade agreements“? Is this a risk?

Finally, we also recently spoke to Peter Sutherland, former Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. Would he agree with Drew that a transatlantic FTA would benefit all parties? Or is he concerned, like Clyde Prestowitz, that we are moving too far away from a multilateral approach?

First of all, a number of us did a report for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the subject we’re discussing. I firmly stand in the camp of Clyde Prestowitz; the danger is a danger to multilateralism. I do not agree that creating a Free Trade Agreement across the Atlantic is desirable. It would create, in one way or another, a rich person’s club.

The failure of the Doha round is imminent; that is now clear. The will has not been there to conclude it. And partially contributing to that has been a huge proliferation of bilateral treaties from the US and EU which have taken the emphasis off the Doha round. The evidence of increasing protectionism globally is not unrelated to this.

The WTO was the greatest advance since the inspired period of institution-building at the end of WWII. The Doha round was meant to augment and continue with this process. The fact it is in the throes of what appear to be a death agony is extremely worrying.

What do YOU think? Could a Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the US encourage growth for both sides? Or will the bilateral FTA approach ultimately lead to more protectionism? Or maybe you think we need MORE protectionism and an end to the free trade agenda? Let us know your thoughts in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – das farbambt


23 comments Post a commentcomment


  1. avatar
    Ana Maria

    Few powerful people?s greed led to the fall of Europe?s economy?and it will definitely kill it, sooner or later?you draw the conclusion ;)?the rest, inventing measures, it is just dust in the eyes!

  2. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    If you look at globalization, yes. There are those who say that, while creating jobs in the
    host country, it would still bring in revenue to the parent country and
    that would amount to fraud. Globalization has made the world more
    prosperous however, intertwined with trade, I see the source of their
    concerns. This is at the heart of the WTO
    demonstrations and protest and also, more recently, the conflict
    surrounding NAFTA.
    if you want bilateral..that is how Asia, in fact, has always done. And prospered.

  3. avatar
    Ana Maria

    I am european, not asian…I fight for european values, citizen’s values, not about numbers in national budgets…this is so pathetic..

  4. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    It is about time that Europeans woke up and began distancing itself from the US, whose methodology of free trade is down the barrel of a gun. Not only that, in my opinion, because of economic/financial so called free trade with the US, Europe is going down the drain, or more correctly, ordinary Europeans were and are being sold out to benefit the few. IF the EU was serious about looking after European interests, it would be looking to Russia, China and India for free trade agreements. which are all on the same landmass as Europe and who are interested in trade and not military domination. Included can be the rest of the Bric nations. Nations that are not averse to combining social policies with economics, something that those that control the US government is trying to stamp out in Europe. Also there are British Commonwealth countries that have more in common with Europe, Australia and Canada for example where FTAs would be more beneficial to Europe. There is absolutely NO gain for ordinary Europeans maintaining this illogical sycophancy to the US and its monetary regime, an empire that lives by the sword, they, the US have nothing positive to offer Europe. The EU can be and should be a world role model without the need to hang onto the coat-tails of the American regime or remain a prisoner to it….pj

  5. avatar
    Hasan Ozdemir

    Hello,yes of course it will be able recover to Europe.the Free Trade Agreement will increase a production and a productivity soon.Besides the unemployment will decrease in short time.What you get is more :)

    Best wishes,

  6. avatar
    Ivan Burrows

    @MandyandPj Leneghan: As long as you don’t include us as Europeans you can do whatever you want.

  7. avatar
    Nikolai Holmov

    There is and always has been much more behind trade agreements than trade and economics. Let’s start from the beginning of any trade agreement and that is politics and political will. That normally has as much to do with expanding influence within the nations involved by the other party as it does with trade.

    Living in a nation that has just completed the negotiations of the EU’s most ambitious free trade agreement, as far as trade is concerned, the EU has very little to gain from such an agreement with Ukraine. When it comes to projecting its policies and values however, that integration has immense benefits potentially when it comes to pulling Ukraine in an EU favouring direction when difficult decisions with its neighbours appear in the future.

    Just what politically could be gained by a FTA with the US from an EU perspective would seem to border on the insignificant. EU/US trade is hardly shabby as things currently stand.

    In fact politically the EU institutions and citizenry may stand to lose more than it gains with the additional and anticipated lobbying within the Brussels bubble from those living on the other side of the Atlantic who would immediately have far more interests and a politically agreed framework to use as a foundation to justify that lobbying.

    Just how long do we think the US would abide by a FTA when it has no official input into EU bureaucracy and changes to standards, laws, diktats and directives that would affect their importers under any FTA? Yes the US has an ambassador to the EU, but his fire-power would be significantly increased from the US should such an agreement ever be reached.

    There is no real political basis for such an agreement and the economic argument for an FTA does not really justify the additional US political interference in EU affairs should one be created.

    I, like many who are foreign policy nerds, would be in the undoubted majority that would advocate no such agreement is reached or even sought. It simply complicates WTO matters 50 or 100 years ahead with no additional political influence to the benefit of the EU in the short, medium or long term.

    Short-term growth with a knee-jerk look around the globe for those with the ability to buy something and rattling off a FTA is not the answer to the EU’s growth difficulties.

    As painful as it will undoubtedly be, whatever plans the EU have for growth must be sustainable (and that will mean slow but sure) and politically worthwhile. That lays in the immediate neighbourhood, North Africa and Central Asia, not on the other side of the Atlantic.

  8. avatar
    Ana Maria

    Ivan, I noticed your postings :) wherever an EU instit communiates :D…but you know that they are paid to do so..and mostly it is propaganda..and you are on your own…You have to think more strategically, but however, I think you are good in making your point!

  9. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    Tis not I that you need to tell that to Ivan, you need to tell our government, whilst at it, tell them that we need and demand a referendum. What most anti-EU people fail to realize is that it is not the fault of the EU that the UK is a member of this organisation and that the UK government AND opposition want to keep it that way, all even ganging up to sabotage the chance of a referendum. Given the current environment within the EU, I will be voting to get out, the first chance that we get. Another factor not understood by UK ant-EU people is that the UK plays a dominant role, especially on foreign policy within the EU. The only beef that the tories have with the EU is in the area of human and civil rights, which INCLUDE, the minimum wage, oh&s and other issues that protect the ordinary UK citizen/worker. Apparently the tory do not want British workers to have any rights. Getting out of the EU will not solve any problems in itself but it should make political participation easier . Until then, YOU are as dictated by your rulers, European (as well as by geography)..pj

  10. avatar
    Zoétán Jenei

    a proktekciuzmust inkb U.S.A gyakorolja magn szemly egy rud szalmit sem vihetbe az orszgukba mert a vmon elveszik vagy a helyszinen megeszi

  11. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    And where did that attitude, re moral values, originate from Ozcan? Media including entertainment media sourced mainly from? ..pj

  12. avatar
    Ozcan

    USA lives by the sword? lol have you ever looked at how China Russia and India treat their own people? Don’t mind what they’re planned to do with your sorry ass when they own it.

  13. avatar
    Ozcan

    The reason Eu collaborates with everyone is because they have destroyed all spiritual institutions back home,..a entire generation is growing up without any moral values, they lack the ability to distinguish right from wrong.

    • avatar
      catherine benning

      And of course in the good old USA, where the Christian Right (an oxymoron) sells the idea that war and military machines are what ‘God’ has told us to use against our enemies, is the way to go? That is good thinking?

      Interesting that Switzerland, a democratic society of peace, hasn’t had war since 1815 and is doing extremely well, without a mass of starving and out of work people, akin to the USA. The last figure given of the US homeless and starving being 50 million is an understatement, but according to this take, is all down to the fact that they are not good people as they do not stand by Christian values.

      Where do you get that from? Do you have any back up for it?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suJCvkazrTc

  14. avatar
    Ozcan

    The pioneers of our moral cause are the Catholic Church and a hand full of intellectuals we still have around here in Europe (while both are not always in coherence). Media is a very vague therm. When you think you can become a moral stable individual from watching television or even by reading the newspapers, than i wish you good luck. And what makes you think there is a “re-moral” movement going on? According to my knowledge we are still in the process of breaking it down.

  15. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    Propaganda unfortunately still works Ozcan but more to the point, free trade agreements should be just that, free trade agreements, should be entered into with no strings attached but just look at the strings that the US attaches. A free trade agreement or any agreement with the US means subservience to their violent system rulers. In my opinion, that is the source of the current economic and political crisis that is the EU today. A so called free trade agreement with the US as suggested by this topic is academic, it in other words, wouldn’t matter given their, US, occupation of Europe, looks like window dressing to me. When I say the US, I do not mean the people of the US but their so called government system, which apparently are well and truly controlled by monopoly capitalism/corporatists. Many millions of Americans are waking up to these facts. The following gentleman has had a pretty colourful life and has made many colourful statements, but in the attached presentation, in my opinion, he appears to be as close to the truth of the matter as you can get. So much so, the presentation if taken out of context, may upset a few sacred cows….pj….http://youtu.be/dlEX1xD1wtM

  16. avatar
    Ozcan

    Personally I can find myself more in a military discipline than going by the conduct of pimps and drug lords. Russia has it’s human trafficking, China heroin, Islamic Fundamentalists oil, south America cocaine and America guns. Europe is the only one that got empty hands so they’re lifting their own hardworking people instead. You gave the USA as a example of imperialism, but you can also use it as a example of how they freed themselves from the British empire. The future of a country is dependent of the integrity of its people.

  17. avatar
    Jason Kostopoulos

    FREE TRADE…i think we have seen enough with free trade. Is the cheap China products a free trade?? No its a free slave!!!…The Europeans product paying the workers more money, pension funds and social security, when in China the workers get….a cup of rice working 10 hours in the communist China. Every product that is not produced with the same social standards as in the European Countries, using people in an unfair way should be charged with a Tax in Europe, so the will not be cheaper and be a threat to our social system and our productivity.

  18. avatar
    MC Guisan

    Europe needs more balanced trade with the rest of the World, and EU policies should be changed in order to avoid high trade deficits and negative current account balance (CAB). More fair trade is not the same that more free trade. Fair trade does not destroy industry nor generate unsustainable trade deficits. European Union should mprove ther policies in this regard. More information at our Blog:

    04/09/2013 David Martin, MEP, has responded to this comment.

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