Setting the Standard in Free Trade: The Making of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
In July 2013, more than 150 negotiators from the European Union and the United States converged in Washington, D.C. to begin crafting what could become the world's largest free trade agreement-the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Billed as a transformational trade accord, the TTIP would go beyond tariffs to cut non-tariff barriers, expand trade in services, streamline regulatory standards, and incorporate trade elements to suit a rapidly evolving global economy. American and European leaders had pushed for the TTIP in the hope that it would provide a much-needed boost to struggling American and European economies, which were mired in recession and high unemployment since 2008, and buckling under rising competition from China. But the negotiators, faced a sobering reality, "the reason we have not had a trade agreement like this between ourselves in the last several decades isn't because nobody thought of it," said Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative. "It's because there have always been issues that have tripped us up." Under intense political pressure and rising public scrutiny, will the negotiating teams be able to reduce trade barriers between the two economic giants? This case explores how in the absence of multilateral trade liberalization, regional trade agreements are becoming increasingly popular. With an in-depth account of the political and technical challenges in negotiating a mega regional accord, the case questions if political will or the need for economic growth can overcome longtime barriers to deeper trade integration.