TAFTARepresentatives from world’s two economic giants, the European Union and the United States, met in Washington last Monday for the fifth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA) project. Both economic powers have an economic growth rate of 08 percent per year and they represent 50 percent of the world’s wealth.

If implemented, the TAFTA agreement is expected to increase the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 120 billion euros in the EU and 95 billion euros in the US.If the EU and the US reach an agreement, they will sign a treaty establishing an immense free trade area covering Europe and North America This proposal is obviously of tremendous importance for the world economy, thus for the future of every single country around the globe.

It’s sufficient to keep in mind that the EU and the US account for 40 percent of international trade, so it’s not hard to guess that other economic powers are now closely watching this negotiation process and trying to develop precautions. Some experts even believe that TAFTA negotiations will encourage similar attempts by Russia, China, India and Brazil in the future.

If established, TAFTA will represent not just an economic bloc, but also a political bloc. It will be like NATO’s economic leg.

Nevertheless, some NATO member countries are not members of the EU, such as Turkey, and will remain outside of the agreement. They will, as a consequence, probably suffer Perhaps we’ll start hearing about Turkey’s efforts to join TAFTA in the coming years.

TAFTA’s birth will not be without complications, however A fierce debate is going on between the two negotiating sides, and also within the EU. Nationalist and Leftist circles in France, along with Conservatives and Social Democrats in Germany, are opposed to the project and they claim American farmers will be able to sell their cows or chickens to Europe without any health controls whatsoeverWe don’t even know if agriculture will be included in the agreement or if the negotiations concern only industrial products.

It appears that very few people are wholly informed about the substance of the negotiations. After all, one of the main criticisms of the TAFTA negotiations is their extreme opacity.

The European Parliament elections are approaching and the negotiations in Washington have become a propaganda tool for a number of political currents. Their representatives claim that the details of the draft agreement are so horrible that, if revealed, political balances in many European countries would change.

The fact that the TAFTA negotiation process is perceived as non-transparent doesn’t help. Many ordinary people believe they are being deliberately kept in dark.

It is well known that some level of skepticism of the US has always existed in Europe, especially in France. However, the real issue in France is the problems of their national economy and the French people’s uneasiness about constantly being surpassed by Germany.

Every single debate about the French economy turns into a comparison game between Germany and France, from the amount of foreign direct investment to the state of public hospitals. Besides, France is quite disturbed to see Germany dictating its will to the rest of Europe all the time.

Under these circumstances, it is hard for France to reject the TAFTA project. They don’t seem likely to acknowledge Germany as Europe’s boss, so they will need another powerful economic partner to balance Berlin’s influence.

All this, at a time when Euroskeptic currents are becoming more powerful in Europe with every passing day and when, in a number of member countries, people have started to question their country’s membership in the EU. Perhaps the EU will evolve toward becoming a “loose union” and TAFTA’s implementation will become a priority.

That would be good news for Turkey’s accession bid.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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