Atlantic free trade zone

Danish PM, Fogh Rasmussen, is on an official visit to SDMB’s all time favourite president: Mr. Bush. Today at Berkeley University Fogh will propose a trans-Atlantic free trade zone, build on the form and experience gained from the EEC.

Sounds like a stellar idea to me, as long as it can be kept strictly to the economic sphere. Any chance in hell a thing like this will take off in the foreseeable future? Who would oppose it? France perhaps, as far as they still see the EU as a tool with which to oppose the US. Germany and France and other western European states that fear the US “unfettered capitalism”?

Visions of Atlantic free trade

What do you mean by this?

The European Union started out as a simple coal-and-steel tarriff union (, and now it’s something close to an international government. I infer that’s what Rune would like to avoid WRT any Atlantic Free Trade Zone.

I doubt that it could be kept strictly in the economic sphere. There would be pressure (from more than just France) to “normalize” labor laws and practices. The US wouldn’t have any of that. But anything we can do to reduce tarrifs and trade barriers, by whatever amount, is good IMO, and I’m all for it. Now, if we can just do something about Cuba so I can get some decent cigars!

We’ve managed that with NAFTA so far, haven’t we?

So far as I know. And in retrospect I rather wonder why not. You’d think that if we had set certain limits regarding lowering corruption, drug trade, abuse of human rights, etc. as a precondition to joining NAFTA, the Mexican gov’t woulda still jumped at the chance. It’s certainly worked for the EU in getting E. European gov’ts to reform. Had it been successful we could’ve expanded it into the Carribean, etc.

Seems an opportunity lost.

I guess it depends on what you mean by a “free trade zone”. NAFTA doesn’t even come close to creating a free trade zone. I do think we could make incrimental progress with Europe on free trade before we’d bump into the barrier I brought up, but nothing that would come to approach a free trade zone.

I think it’s a bl**dy good idea. It won’t happen in the near future, but the EU with its nice, insulated economies, will get a kick up the backside by the very mention of it.

True. The EU has almost completely open internal borders – for people as well as goods. If you’re a citizen of one of the pre-1991 member states, you can travel to and work in any other EU state – no passport, no (equivalent of a) green card. If you’re a citizen of one of the newly admitted Eastern European states you don’t have that privilege, yet, but it won’t be long in coming.

So – is that how you would like NAFTA to be? Free passage of Mexicans into the U.S. to work? No green card required?

Is that how you would like an Atlantic Free Trade Zone to be?

No. Free trade does not need to mean free movement of people. I’m not sure why you would assume that. We could have free and unfettered trade in goods and sercvices with either Mexico or Canada and still maintain our borders.

Insulated economies? The US economy is much more insulated than the european ones. Both exports and imports represent a much larger %age of european countries’ GNP than they do in the USA.

Is that true of the EU as a trading block? That’s probably a better way of looking at it since the US is so much bigger than any individual European country. Still, keep in mind that “amount of trade” is not necessarily a good measure of the insularity of an economy, as some sectors may be more insulated than others. But I do agree that most Americans don’t realize how insulated we are, and often think we’re free traders but other countries aren’t. That clearly isn’t so.

I’m obviously missing something here, since I can’t visualize such a zone existing along with the EU. It seems to me that it would actually be a free trade zone that included the US and all of the EU, so why not just bring the US into the EU?? :stuck_out_tongue: [sup]I probably need to duck and run, here![/sup] In the future it seems that it would be more in the interest of both parties to try to make ties with other economies.

That’s a good question, and I’ve no clue…

According to the CIA they are the worlds largest exporter. Click on the EU link and scroll down to the “factoid” bit about exports and you’ll see that this number excludes intra-EU trade (so it’s for the EU as a bloc, not just the sum of its members exports). The same link gives the imports at 1.4 trillion, which is a little more then their exports but I can’t find a page that ranks imports.

In anycase, the EU is at least as open as the US, probably more so and certainly more so if you count imports/exports within the EU.

I don’t think you can conclude that from just the raw inport/export numbers. It seems like only a very crude estimate. For instance, a country might import lots of raw materials and export lots of finished goods. Perhaps it protects it’s domestic manufacturers but simply has no significant raw materials.

I’d have to look at the details of the tarrif laws, and that would give me a headache. :slight_smile:

Fair enough. But if the EU had an “insulated” economy as was stated above, I think we can assume that it wouldn’t be amongst the top import/exporters in the world. So it’s a rough estimate that serves for this conversation. I won’t make you look up the import tariff on shrimp shipped to Slovenia or anything :wink:

Check out this cite for average tarriffs. Doesn’t include the US, though. Average tarriff in the EU on agricultural goods is 16.1%, 6.4% on industrial goods.

I think the best way to compare is to look at tarriffs by industry, but then you have to look at government subsidies as well. I’ll poke around a little more later.

By insulated, I meant employee-wise. It’s much harder and more costly to fire someone here, especially in France (you might recall the recent protests). This means that American companies are much more agile than European ones. Of course, Socialism is rampant over here too, with large State sectors, neither of which help.

Ah, that makes much more sense. My impression was that only a few of the original EU members (France, Italy and Germany) have “insulated economies” in the way you describe and that many of the newer members, are in fact less regulated as to hiring/firing practices then the US. So one would think that any “kick” competition with the US sparked by a limited trade agreement would already have been provided by the much more comprehensive free trade agreements existing in the EU between insulated and non-insulated members.

Probably in some ways. I’d imagine if US companies were made to compete with European countries that didn’t have to provide health care for thier workers there would be a greater pressure from businesses for the US to adopt more state healthcare.