AP Photo/Elaine Thompson File
Trade negotiators from the European Union and New Zealand say they hope the U.S., as a valued trading partner, will get back in the game but they are staying the course on years of trade negotiations.
“We are continuing to conclude trade deals because we believe that trade can be win/win and that everything which liberalizes further and creates new market opportunities is to everybody’s benefit,” said David O’Sullivan, the EU’s ambassador to the U.S.
The EU has just completed an ambitious trade deal with Canada and will sign another with Japan in the next few months. Its agreements with Singapore and Vietnam will enter into force this year, and it is upgrading first-generation trade deals with Mexico and Chile, he said at the International Dairy Forum this week.
While he’s a believer in free trade, he’s not naive. It’s a disruptor and needs public policy to accompany it to help regions and sectors that are adversely affected, he said.
“I’m not a blind advocate of free trade and nothing else. But I think if you get that right policy mix, it’s undisputable that trade makes everybody better, and that to us is a fundamental tenet of the European Union’s international perspective,” he said.
The EU will continue down that path, and hopes the U.S. will continue to be the great partner in the future that it has been in the past, he said.
New Zealand shares the same perspective on trade, said Tim Groser, New Zealand’s ambassador to the U.S.
“I think the problem is we’ve been taught too well by the United States over the last 70 years to say and do these things,” he said.
“It’s not that we don’t face new challenges to the orthodoxy that has prevailed … we’ve met these challenges,” he said.
Those challenges include such things as social and environmental issues, but it’s not stopping the pursuit of trade agreements, he said.
“Trade agreements are going on as we try to manage these political problems. It’s not stopping us, although these problems have to be managed in new ways entering into new trade and investment agreements,” he said.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the U.S. pulled out of, is highly likely to go ahead, just as the EU will go ahead with its agreement with Japan, he said.
“At the same point, there may be an administration and a political willingness (in the U.S.) to get back into this game with us because all of us are your allies, your close partners and your friends. These countries that are doing this stuff are not anti-U.S. in any sense at all,” he said.
The U.S. has to find its own way of dealing with anti-globalization and anti-trade sentiment, and in time it will, he said, but other countries aren’t stopping in their pursuit of trade agreements.
“We just want you guys to sort it out,” he said.