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Posts tagged ‘free trade agreement’

How Obama Can Win a European Free-Trade Deal

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

(This article first appeared on, where Ben Heineman is a frequent contributor)

The contrast was striking. In his State of the Union address, President Obama buried the start of a U.S.-E.U. free trade negotiations in a single sentence well down in the text: ” Tonight, I’m announcing that we will launch talks on a comprehensive Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the European Union, because trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”

Yet, remarkably, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times led their editions the second day after the speech with the trade talk stories, and under multi-deck headlines (“Obama Bid for Trade Pact with Europe Stirs Hope: Rise of China May Spur Deal Despite Past Failures–Visions of Lower Prices.“)

In trumpeting the story, the newspapers acknowledged the potential significance of such a deal between the first and second largest economies in the world (E.U. $17 trillion; U.S. $15 trillion; China $12 trillion), reflecting the views of politicians and other leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. In downplaying the announcement, the president was hedging his bets: because of parochial interests in both the U.S. and the E.U., it will be hard to get a meaningful deal done on a host of technocratic issues, and he doesn’t want the trade negotiations to detract politically from the host of other issues he wishes to advance during his second term.

Yet the irony is that the president cannot hedge his bets without effectively undermining, or indeed killing, the talks in their infancy. He must be prepared to put the full weight of the administration, and the full weight of the presidency, behind this project for it to have a decent chance of succeeding. Read more

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High-Risk, High-Reward: Will Obama Seek a Free-Trade Pact With Europe?

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

Ben W. Heineman, Jr.

By Ben W. Heineman Jr.

(This article first appeared on, where Ben Heineman wries frequently.)

Just after the New Year, President Obama will have to decide whether to take a dramatic, high-stakes gamble on a very unsexy topic: a U.S.-E.U. free trade agreement. It will be one of the key high-risk, high-reward choices of his second term.

By removing all barriers on goods and by facilitating fairer and more transparent competition in services, investment, and public procurement, such an agreement could stimulate growth and increase jobs in the world’s two largest economies, which together comprise more than 50 percent of the world’s GDP.

Such economic benefits could occur without any additional government expenditure. An agreement could provide a needed, long-lasting jolt to the ailing economies on both sides of the Atlantic. It could avoid the dilemmas posed by the current policy choice between austerity at a time of anemic growth and stimulus at a time of fiscal disarray. Read more

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