In a statement released by the British Embassy in Washington, Prime Minister David Cameron said that completing a deal will require “hard work and bold decisions on both sides,” adding that “it’s great” that Obama had decided to proceed.
“A deal will create jobs on both sides of the Atlantic and make our countries more prosperous,” Cameron said.
In the conference call with reporters, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the new agreement will give the United States “a historic opportunity” to press for the full elimination of tariffs and to come up with new rules for food and strong intellectual property rights, among other things.
The United States wants to take advantage of the growing political will in Europe and domestically to reach accord on a new deal, Kirk said. “We should be ambitious and we should deal with all of these issues,” he said. “Everything is on the table across all sectors.”
Frymoyer said U.S. consumers could benefit if the agreement forces the U.S. government to adopt higher standards for food safety and on environmental and labor issues.
“Clearly, it is easier to obtain progressive trade objectives with high-wage, high-standard nations like those in the EU than in some other trade negotiations with developing nations,” he said.
Some are skeptical.
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, predicted that U.S. firms would try to get Europe to gut tougher regulations on food safety and chemicals, among other things, while European firms would object to stronger drug and medical devices safety and testing standards in the U.S.
“The dirty little secret . . . is that it is not mainly about trade, but rather would target for elimination the strongest consumer and environmental policies on either side of the Atlantic,” she said.
As with all trade deals, the devil will be in the details.
“The reason we haven’t had a trade agreement like this between ourselves in the last several decades isn’t because no one hasn’t thought of it,” said Froman, regarded as a top candidate to succeed Kirk when he leaves later this month to move back to his home state of Texas. “It’s because there have always been issues that have tripped us up.”