Transatlantic Trade and Investment Report Launched in Brussels
On June 9, the German Marshall Fund (GMF) along with the Centre for European Reform (CER) co-hosted an event in Brussels to launch a new report authored by Philip Whyte of CER. The event was held at Résidence Palace and featured a keynote speech by Director General of DG Trade David O'Sullivan, which was followed by a panel discussion featuring Mr. O'Sullivan as well as Sean Mulvaney (GMF), Fredrik Erixon (European Centre for International Political Economy, ECIPE), Philip Whyte (CER), and Dick Cunningham (Steptoe & Johnson). The session was moderated by Charles Grant (CER).
David O'Sullivan began with a keynote speech that emphasized that importance of the transatlantic relationship and its potential for driving a conclusion to the current round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations. He stated that there is now something of a divide across the Atlantic, one that has to be overcome if the transatlantic relationship is to be the driving force of multilateralism. However, resistance to external influence makes bridging this divide particularly difficult for policymakers. Mr. O'Sullivan suggested that a strategy developed at the highest-level allowing for a degree of cross-interference was the only way forward, along with a move towards resolving all "legacy disputes." His speech concluded by reasserting that the transatlantic relationship remains the "core business "of both the EU and the United States and that developing this relationship was a priority for both groups.
Philip Whyte opened the panel discussion by summarizing the key points of his report. It challenges the notion that the transatlantic relationship is being displaced by the rise of large developing countries, arguing that this perception is merely due to changing patterns of international trade. He criticized the focus on trade in goods as a contributing factor, one that underestimates the importance of the transatlantic relationship as it does not place enough emphasis on trade in services. He called for the United States and the EU to work to lead the global economy away from measures that would undermine the multilateralism and that the trend towards bilateralism should be limited to efforts to decrease transatlantic regulatory barriers.
Further input was given by Dick Cunningham, Sean Mulvaney and Fredrik Erixon. They echoed previous statements regarding the importance of the transatlantic relationship and the need for political leadership on both sides of the Atlantic. Messrs. Mulvaney and Erixon argued that the notion of the U.S.-EU link being challenged was in fact a perception that has arisen from increased transatlantic engagement with the rest of the world rather than a sign of a strained relationship. Dick Cunningham provided some criticism of parts of the report, namely the warning against belittling the importance of trade in merchandise when focusing on trade in services - points that were supported by Sean Mulvaney. Sean Mulvaney welcomed the contribution of Philip Whyte but argued that the report does not do enough to address the issue of "free-riders" in the international system, the emphasis on the "Most-Favored Nation" principle in spite of a number of trading partners not wanting to sign on to a liberalization agreement of some kind. He also felt that the paper does not acknowledge the reality that the WTO is an essential tool for addressing global imbalances. The panel was unanimous in recommending the conclusion of the Doha Round and that EU and U.S. policies should primarily be aimed at driving forward multilateral liberalization.