EDITORIAL: Trade focus of Atlantic alliance
With the United States changing its focus from any further involvement in unnecessary wars, it is inevitable that it would concentrate its attention on developing its economic ties around the globe.
It is a natural fit that renewed emphasis would be placed on Europe and Asia, two major trading blocs. It is perhaps well known that American investment in Europe is three times higher than it is in Asia.
However, last December the United States National Intelligence Council released a detailed report entitled Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds, which suggested that Asia could soon surpass North America and Europe in global power.
The report noted that Asia will have a higher gross domestic product, larger population, higher military spending, and more technological investment. In this regard, Europe and the United States need each other more than ever, making greater transatlantic cooperation critical.
Given the shift in global power and the prospect of United States energy self-sufficiency, it is desperately trying to adapt its foreign policy to the new multi-polar international order.
Although Asia is now America’s strategic priority, Europe is still the partner with which Americans have the most in common.
As the United States and Europe seek to cement their global roles, cooperation between them is more important than ever. So many feel that now is the time for a bold initiative: the launch of a United States-European Union free trade agreement.
The recent launch of this agreement is understandable. It means that the United States will now work with whomever can help it get the results it wants – thus ensuring that it remains the “indispensable nation”.
Americans understand that Europe, as the other major bedrock of democracy and military power, has great potential.
However, if Europe fails to respond, Obama will look elsewhere for the partners he needs, the most likely being Asia. For many, however, the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is more of a nightmare.
For some in Brussels, the creation of a vast EU-US free trade area, which initially seemed unlikely under President Obama, would be a dream come true and will generate jobs, more transatlantic investment flows and seal the Atlantic alliance.
Conversely, those who fear that the United States and the European Union are ganging up against the rest of the world should think again: the free trade initiative could act as a much needed wake-up call to restart serious negotiations on the Doha round of global trade talks.
The deal would be the most ambitious since the founding of the World Trade Organization in 1995, embracing half of world output and a third of all trade and should be a stark lesson for regional economies in CARICOM.