Trade: Europe’s Parliament has moved to revitalize the continent’s weak economy by clearing the way for a free-trade agreement with the U.S. A baby step, yes, but if it succeeds, it’ll be the mother of all trade pacts.
By a vote of 526-94, the European Parliament approved its first resolution calling for talks on a U.S.-European free-trade agreement, starting in the first half of 2013.
“We wanted to send a strong political signal in favor of opening negotiations with the United States in order to create a real trans-Atlantic market with enormous opportunities for growth,” said EU’s Vital Moreira before the vote.
It was a smart move coming from a continent that has long protected its industries through high tariffs and tangled regulations. It also comes just as a bill urging U.S.-EU free trade, “The Economic Freedom Alliance Act,” is gaining support in Congress.
It will take time, but uniting the world’s two largest advanced economies will pay huge dividends.
Two-way trade between the U.S. and Europe in 2011 stood at $1 trillion, and free trade will heap another $200 billion onto both economies.
Thousands of jobs will come of it and consumers will be in hog heaven, with Americans buying duty-free Italian Guccis, Greek seafood or German BMWs while Europeans will snap up no-tariff Texas-made computers, Ohio-made drill bits and California almonds — to give just a few examples.
“The EU has taken a major step toward upgrading the pivotal trans-Atlantic relationship,” Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican who sponsored the U.S. bill, told IBD. “An agreement for free and fair trade would greatly benefit the economies on both sides, binding Europe and America closer together through peaceful commerce.”
That’s progress, and with a troubled Europe now taking its first step, it can’t start soon enough.