Washington wants pragmatic trade deal with EU linked to growth
By Lénaïc Vaudin d’Imécourt | Wednesday 23 May 2012
The US authorities could accept a more narrow approach to a trade deal with the EU if a comprehensive agreement was too difficult to reach, US Trade Representative Ron Kirk said, on 22 May. “If the working group’s rigorous dialogue and analysis determine that the most ambitious outcomes are not likely to be achieved through full-fledged trade negotiations at this time, the United States will be ready to explore how the US and the EU could reach agreements in areas where we have shared ambitions,” he told a conference at the London School of Economics, refuting Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht’s stance.
De Gucht has stated earlier this month that a piecemeal approach to a trade deal with the US “will at best allow us to solve the easy problems, while the difficult ones – which have the greatest potential to generate jobs and growth – fall by the wayside”. He warned that said approach could even “lead to a deadlock before we even get off the ground”. However, according to Kirk, “with so many jobs at stake right now, neither the US nor the European Union can afford to leap into open-ended negotiations on good faith alone”. Mutual need to enhance growth and employment “compel us to identify a reasonably short path to success before we launch negotiations,” he added.
An ambitious transatlantic trade agreement would include provisions on agriculture and health and safety regulations - areas where the EU and the US disagree. “Tackling those non-tariff barriers successfully would constitute a major breakthrough,” Kirk noted.
The EU and the US are due to present an interim report on their plans by June and final recommendations by the end of 2012.