USA-EU trade talks begin at G8
At the group of eight meeting in Northern Ireland, EU and USA leaders begun the first round of talks on what promises to be the “biggest bilateral trade deal in history”, despite the event being overshadowed by continued tension over French insistence on excluding the audio-visual sector from initial talks.
G8 host, UK prime minister David Cameron, has said that he expects the trade deal between the two areas to be worth £100 billion to the EU and £80 billion to the USA if successful. Talks come at a key time, as leaders on both sides are looking for a means to kick start growth and increase jobs without increasing spending.
Leaders are also hopeful that the trade deal would cement the EU and USA’s positions as global trade leaders and therefore would be able to set the standards of the global economy, insulating it from rising trade powers such as China and India.
Controversy overshadowing the talks are from comments made by the European Commission President, Jose Manual Barroso, in an interview with the New York Times published on Monday 17th June, in an apparent attack on France, calling the desire to exclude the audio-visual sector from talks “culturally extremely reactionary”.
France domestically has a policy of subsidising film, television and radio programs that promote French creativity and language, and have been campaigning for the past few weeks to remove these sectors from being discussed by EU-USA leaders. Following late night talks in Luxembourg between the EU and ministers on Friday 14th June, the French have secured a deal that would mean that, initially, the audio-visual sector would not be included as trade talks develop.
In response, seemingly aimed at the French position, Mr Barroso has commented that they have “no understanding of the benefits that globalisation brings also from a cultural point of view, also in terms of opening horizons and broadening our perspectives and also the sentiment of belonging to the same mankind, which I think is a very important concept against all forms of narrow nationalism and protectionism”.
Despite being overshadowed by a souring of EU and French relations, UK officials have stated that they hope to complete the trade talks within 12-18 months.