The ninth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership takes place this week in New York. The EU and the U.S. originally wanted to reach an agreement on a free trade agreement by the end of the year, but they have long departed from this ambitious goal and are now striving to at least decide on the cornerstones of an agreement by the end of 2015. But the time pressure is still high.
However, the Americans are involved in free trade negotiations in the Pacific, as well as the Atlantic. In the Trans-Pacific Partnership, too, in which 11 other neighboring Pacific countries are involved, time is pressing. However, those talks are said to be well advanced.
The American presidential election takes place in November 2016. To be able to show success in trade policy, the U.S. government under President Obama should therefore complete this major project as quickly as possible. Once the official election is underway, neither Democrats nor Republicans will presumably want to alienate voters with unpopular trade policy issues. Because the topic of free trade is so contentious that politicians are reluctant to tackle it, they fear their own success. In the discussion about the details – chlorinated chickens are the classic TTIP example – the benefits of free trade in goods are almost entirely forgotten.
A transatlantic or transpacific trade liberalization would improve prosperity for the respective regions of the world. Thanks to uniform standards, unnecessary customs bureaucracy, for example, would disappear. Moreover, it would create more legal certainty for investors, for example in emerging markets in Asia and South America. It would thus be downright reckless if the remaining window of time for TTIP and the TPP were to close before being used.