Time is running out for the U.S. and European Union to complete a trade pact, according to President Barack Obama.
With the U.S. president's Asian pivot strained by political pressure on a Pacific Rim free trade deal, he turned to Europe to address a proposed agreement with the EU. Obama asserted that Europe and the U.S. must move forward on the deal despite the cloud of controversy that hands over it, similar to the Pacific Rim pact also in the works.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was the subject of discussion as Obama joined German leader Angela Merkel in her country this month. Obama said that he is "confident" the two sides can come to an agreement before the end of the year, though ratification of such a deal is a different story, Politico reported. Though there is plenty of opposition to TTIP, both leaders pushed it as a positive for the U.S. and Germany, already frequent trade partners.
TTIP has plenty of opposition, as well as support
Some of the primary criticism of the Atlantic pact is similar to that of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Specifically, opponents to both deals are concerned with the lack of transparency in negotiations. Discussions among members of both deals are done mostly in secret, and few details have made it off the table into the public discourse. Critics are concerned that the opaque trade talks will end up giving disproportionate power to multinational corporations.
The discussions that have been the subject of so much criticism have been ongoing since 2013. Hopes are that now that TPP has been completed and is in the ratification stage, TTIP will get a boost, Voice of America explained. However, the window to complete such a deal is closing fast.
Which is one reason why Merkel and Obama attempted to quell concerns about the free trade deal and push negotiations forward. The German government has pushed TTIP's potential to give small and mid-size businesses a platform to compete on a global scale. Obama, meanwhile, acknowledged that while globalization may be distressing to some, in the end it is a good idea.
'Brexit' could affect push to complete TTIP
Despite Merkel and Obama's push to ease concerns about TTIP, there are people in the U.K. who remain concerned about the agreement. These anxieties are fueling the argument for the so-called "Brexit" – the looming decision on whether to leave the EU. With the citizens of the U.K. mulling whether remaining in the EU is good for their country's future, the controversial TTIP could end up simply being more fuel for the pro-Brexit fire.
Both supporters and the opposition have powerful allies in their corners. While Obama hopes the former wins out, chances are he won't be in office to see the agreement through either way. The U.S. president's final term is up in November, several months prior to his estimated date of completion for the deal.