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Debates

External Action

Trade agreement will enhance national security

Stephen Cheney / Jul 2013

EU foreign and security chief Catherine Ashton and U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. Photo: European Union

 

Earlier this month, representatives from the United States and European Union began the start of what both sides hope will be the largest trade deal in history. This Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a comprehensive trade deal that will attempt to eliminate trade barriers between the two economic superpowers.  The United States and Europe hope to have the deal completed by the end of 2014.

The US/EU trade relationship is already the strongest in the world. Consequently, the potential to strengthen this partnership even further cannot be ignored. A comprehensive trade agreement would make the United States and Europe more competitive in the global economy – and by doing so, strengthen global security.

Approving a TTIP agreement would significantly enhance American national security. There are myriad ways the United States would benefit from a trade deal with the European Union, but five deserve particular attention:

  1. First, studies have demonstrated that international trade encourages peace among the nations trading with each other. Although there is not an immediate threat for a conflict between the United States and an EU nation, the TTIP would strengthen a partnership that has been prosperous for since the end of World War II. A trade deal would bolster this relationship and secure a strong transatlantic alliance between the US and EU for the distant future.
  2. Second, our global influence is vastly enhanced. The United States and several European nations have been geopolitical and economic leaders for more than a century. The transatlantic relationship is the largest trading partnership in the world, representing about a quarter of global output. Today, according to former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, “when countries are measuring their influence as much by the size of their economies as by the might of their militaries,” there is strategic incentive to ratify a trade deal that would lead to economic expansion. The United States would have an increased presence in the European economy, which would have a ripple effect on global markets. TTIP provides the United States with an opportunity to set global standards, promote an ideology of free trade and democracy to a global audience, and retain its world influence.
  3. Third, global stability is increased. Political turmoil presents a threat of conflict that could impact the United States.  Often, this unrest is the consequence of a struggling economy. Although they were not a direct national security threat to the U.S., the recent protests in countries such as Greece served as a reminder of how an economic crisis can cause instability. Engaging in trade would provide a boost to European economies and would aid in the prevention of political turbulence. Stable trading allies in Europe through the TTIP can provide an additional level of security to the United States.
  4. Fourth, the defense industrial base is more secure. The military equipment required to keep the United States secure is consistently evolving. Accordingly, it is imperative that the American military is able to keep pace with the rapid advancements of the defense industries. In order to do so, the United States must have access to cutting-edge defense technology regardless of its country of origin. Even as early as 1999, the Defense Department acknowledged that it had begun transitioning from acquiring technologies exclusively from American industries towards drawing from the global commercial market, which helps to reduce costs and improve technology. It is essential that the United States can support its allies with defense trade to maintain strong relationships and increase global security. The TTIP provides the United States with an opportunity to enhance its defense trade to improve its own military prowess and ensure that its allies are secure. 
  5. Finally, a strong economy equates to a strong national defense. A trade agreement such as the TTIP would enhance economic security in the United States. Former Deputy U.S. Trade Representative and current Utah Governor John Huntsman emphasized that “economic freedoms reinforce political freedoms. Promoting open markets… enhances opportunities for American farmers, workers, entrepreneurs and families.” The economic benefits of trade with the European Union are undeniable. In 2012, trade between the U.S. and E.U. was estimated to support more than 2.2 million American jobs. The TTIP would lead to job creation and GDP growth and keep America prosperous and secure.

Completing a comprehensive trade agreement between the United States and the European Union will not be an easy task. There will likely be a variety of obstacles, including agriculture and intellectual property rights. Regardless of the difficulties, a deal must be reached. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which would be the largest trade agreement in history, would lead to economic growth and would provide a tremendous boost for American national security. Negotiators from both sides must ensure the ratification of a trade deal, as the TTIP is too tremendous of an opportunity to enhance our mutual security for the both the EU United States let it slip away.

 

Stephen Cheney

Stephen Cheney

July 2013

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