By Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center
Special to Foreign Policy
As far as summits go, there may be no more important — or more boring — gathering in Washington this year. This week, U.S. and European Union negotiators are meeting in D.C. in the third round of talks aimed at creating a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), effectively a U.S.-EU free trade agreement. Broadening and deepening the transatlantic market has long had notional public support in the United States and currently enjoys overwhelming backing by American foreign policy elites. It also reflects a public commitment to Europe even as the Obama administration pivots toward Asia.
But such backing masks a deep vein of skepticism about the benefits of trade liberalization for average people. So while a free trade deal with Europe — where wages, working conditions and environmental standards are comparable to those in the United States — would appear to be an easier sell to the American public than a similar accord with poorer, less advanced economies (like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, currently under discussion, as well), the devil may still be in the details.
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