An economical NATO

An event happened last week that had the potential to evidently change the entire face of the 21st century. I have in mind the announcement made by US President Barack Obama in his state of the nation address. He informed the American public on the White House decision to engage in negotiations for closing what he called the ‘Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’, a free trade agreement between the USA and the EU.
The trade between the two planet economic giants already holds a majority weight on the global trade (roughly 2bn both ways every day), and their combined GDP stands for 54 per cent of the global one (as value, for in terms of purchasing power, it is at about 40 per cent). The development of this free trade pact announced by Obama on February 12, motivated, among other things, by the establishment of millions of new jobs and a robust rise of a few other indicators, will most likely be the achievement with the most notable consequences this century. Through its two fundamental pillars, the West is thus pooling on the same single market five of the world’s top ten economies (US, the strongest in the world, but also Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy) and, by that, secures its global economic primacy and a huge competitive force hard to match even by big and very dynamic economies such as China’s. Conservative German newspaper ‘Die Welt’ was stating the following in the matter the other day: ‘… a common market would also send a powerful political message: Namely that the West wants to pull more tightly together to face the challenges coming from emerging powers in other parts of the world.’
What are the advantages the successful completion of these not at all smooth negotiations is going to bring? First, there are the economic ones. What has been quantified by the various solid reports so far, such a construction will very quickly lead to two major consequences: on both sides if the Atlantic, the economies of the US and the EU will report a rough GDP growth by 1 – 1.5 per cent annually and millions of new jobs will be created as a result of using the dynamism of the free trade area.
This list of economic benefits would suffice to justify the new envisaged trans-Atlantic architecture, knowing that both giants are now struggling with economic recession and are looking for incentives able to trigger a quick recovery. However, beyond the purely economic benefits, there is one major political and strategic one. Several voices have been complaining recently about the growing NATO irrelevance or the lack of interest on the part of the USA in Europe under the new ‘Asian pivot’ conditions. Or, clearly enough, the architecture of an unmatched free trade area involving the USA and the EU will cement the common strategic orientation of the two new partners, which also gives solid reasons to the international media to call the new project ‘an economic NATO’. The two Cold War partners – Europe and the USA – strategically and politically united in NATO, are procuring through this recent initiative an indestructible foundation for a future alliance. As a Berlin expert shows, ‘a trans-Atlantic agreement would be a signal that America and Europe want to mutually strengthen their economic capabilities and thus gain renewed political momentum’.
In this context, one needs to also mention the very quick advantages the EU gains from the beginning of negotiations (June 2013) and their successful completion by the end of next year as planned. Europe is virtually suppressing the nightmare of an unpredictable escalation of the euro zone crisis that has pushed it onto the brim of disintegration. Moreover, the EU is acquiring a new project that could become a catalyst of its energies and re-establish its self-confidence and the trust in its considerable potential. This explains why major European leaders such as Angela Merkel or David Cameron have supported without hesitation and even pushed Washington in this direction (the initiative is backed by both political parties in the USA as well). Secondly, to the EU the initiative means that it is no longer completely on its own in the global competition of the century, measuring up against giants such as China or India. However, this latter benefit equally applies to the US, because the competition with the new emergent powers, especially China, whose exponential growth has pretty much changed the face of the planet, will surely sharpen and the partnership with the EU will enhance its chances.
Another positive systemic benefit brought by the new trans-Atlantic initiative is that, if successful, it will determine similar international action. The US has already disclosed an intention to proceed to a similar trans-Pacific arrangement and their proliferation gives hope that the entry into a shade cone ten years after its launching, the ‘Doha round’ on a global free trade area could get some meaningful and performing surrogates. It is not without interest that the new tarns-Atlantic initiative has received an ambiguous response from Beijing. An official Chinese publication was stating a few days ago: ‘how the proposed US-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations will influence the fairness and reasonableness of the global economic and trade rules can hardly be predicted, because the United States and the Europe are likely to force Doha Round to accept unreasonable proposals by outflanking it with regional economic integration.’ Although perfectly justified, the optimism should not discard realism completely. Negotiations for the concretisation of the initiative are not going to be easy. All previous trans-Atlantic talks on the same subject have failed due to differences coming from divergent interests that could have not vanished overnight. The implementation of the initiative would tale the removal of free trade barriers between the two banks of the Atlantic, which would, in turn, call for European solidarity, a modus vivendi of the EU’s opposition to, for example, the use of genetically modified food and the American fears of massive subsidies awarded to European farmers. In 1998, France caused a similar initiative to fail exactly due to differences over the agriculture dossier. The French minister of trade was saying the other day: ‘I will stand up for an accord that respects our values, Europe’s cultural vision, our agricultural model and which will facilitate progress in ecological and energy matters’.  The political will of being together in tomorrow’s world will, nonetheless, prevail in the construction of this ‘economic NATO’ to which Romania is called, and unquestionably highly interested, to contribute.

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