Speaking at a conference on Europe at Harvard University yesterday, European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht stressed that fostering transatlantic trade would be the best way to provide economic stimulus. “This is the cheapest stimulus package you can imagine,” he said. Noting that “On both sides, we are still suffering the effects of the earthquake that hit our economies in 2008,” Commissioner De Gucht agreed that trade is an indispensable ingredient of prosperity as he made the case for a comprehensive free trade agreement. “The easiest part will be removing the duties that remain on goods. The average tariff barriers are already low, between 3 percent and 5 percent, but there is no reason they should not go to zero. The other issues will be harder, but if we can tackle them the payoff will be a big one.”
Commissioner De Gucht also pointed out that “An EU-U.S. partnership can act as a policy laboratory for the new trade rules we need – on issues like regulatory barriers, competition policy, localization requirements, raw materials, and energy.”
Leaders of the European Union and the United States announced last month that they supported the launch of negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would form the largest free trade zone in the world, and is expected to provide a strong boost to the economies on both sides of the Atlantic.