Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Obama Administration also has expectations for the German election

Emily Schultheis writes in Stepping Up: US Experts Want More Leadership from Germany Spiegel International 08/23/2013 about informed speculation on what the Obama Administration's expectations for Germany after the September election may be.

Of course, the US would always like other countries to support the current US foreign policy more enthusiastically.

But one thing seems to be especially high on the agenda:

Perhaps the biggest area where US trans-Atlantic experts hope to see movement is on economic issues and the ongoing euro crisis. They say Germany could do more to stabilize the European economy and soften its stance on austerity measures to ensure more growth.

"When you have much of the world still teetering and not really on a clear growth trajectory, and Europe really flailing, the German economy is key to the European economy," Hamilton says.

Fran Burwell, vice president of the Atlantic Council, says that even though it's not a politically easy position to take in Germany, the new government should adopt "a more flexible role in terms of debt."

When it comes to economic issues, however, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) may have priority. Both the US and Germany would like to see the establishment of the free-trade agreement and Washington sees Berlin's efforts to help promote the negotiations and bring other European countries on board as being key.

"The TTIP thing is big on the agenda over here (in Washington), and I think Germany has a big investment in that," says Jackson Janes, president of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. "We would expect Germany to continue to take a lead on making sure that goes somewhere, and doesn't break down over certain issues like culture or food." [my emphasis]
A 2013 information release from the AFL-CIO discusses the concerns organized labor has over the TTIP that is under negotiation (U.S.-EU Free Trade Agreement (TTIP)):

The AFL-CIO believes that increasing trade ties with the EU could be beneficial for both American and European workers but as with all trade agreements, the rules matter. Generally speaking, both regions have advanced economies, high national incomes and well-developed legal and regulatory regimes designed to protect the environment and defend workers’ rights. And in many respects, the European nations’ social programs to protect families and the environment exceed those of U.S. laws and regulations — and any U.S.-EU agreement must not be used as a tool to deregulate or drive down these higher standards. If that is the goal, working families of both regions will pay the price.

However, it is important for there to be a new approach to this agreement: the status quo approach to trade has resulted in increasing income inequality, stagnating or declining wages and unacceptably high trade deficits that are sapping economic growth.

Moreover, it is important to note that the EU now includes Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Slovakia—countries whose economies, incomes and worker protections lag behind most of their EU counterparts. In addition, Poland has been engaging in so-called "labor market flexibilities" for a generation and Hungary’s current government has likewise been intent on destroying many worker protections. American workers should be aware that some multinational corporations could be intending to use a U.S.-EU trade agreement to move jobs from the U.S. to these countries whose wages and worker protections do not reach the level of the rest of the EU. [my emphasis in bold]
This is one among a number of very important considerations:

In light of the global financial crisis and recession, negotiators should also abandon the traditional de-regulatory agenda toward financial services that would promote mergers and acquisitions, creating new global conglomerates that would be "too big to fail." Instead, negotiators should concentrate on creating opportunities for institutional cooperation as American and European regulators work to stabilize the global financial system and rein in Wall Street excesses.
At a minimum, a government headed by the SPD instead of Angela Merkel and her CDU would at least be subject to more pressure from its base to avoid another destructive neoliberal trade treaty.

That, unfortunately, is what the Obama Administration can be expected to produce absent effective counter-pressure from its base and the Democratic Party in Congress.

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