Talks have begun in Washington on what could end up being the biggest trade deal in history. Negotiators from the European Union are in town to meet their US counterparts with the aim of creating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Even though much horse trading is expected, the representatives appear optimistic a deal will be reached.
“Yes, I think we have high hopes. Everything should be fine. And I think it’s a huge opportunity for everyone, ” said the negotiator from Spain.
The TTIP comes at a time when Europe is worried about becoming less important to the US than Asia.
But the idea of eliminating tariffs and harmonising regulations appeals to business groups on both sides of the Atlantic.
Tyson Barker, Director of Transatlantic Relations, Bertelsmann Foundation:
“The good thing here domestically is that there is broad consensus on free trade in Congress and in the administration. Both Democrats and Republicans would like to see open free trade agreements with a wide array of partners.”
Tyson Barker also put US / European relations into the current context:
“There is a recognition that the bilateral relationship between the US and Europe is changing. It is no longer a security-based relationship. The premise of that relationship is economic. And we don’t have yet that kind of institutional mechanisms to support that relationship. So creating the TTIP at this time – it couldn’t be more timely.”
Reporting for euronews from Washington, Stefan Grobe said:
“If successful, an agreement might represent the largest boost to the transatlantic relationship since the end of the Cold War. And it is seen by some observers here as a final attempt of the West to stay ahead in a world increasingly influenced by China, India and others.”