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Gardner: 'Cautiously hopeful' about businessmen in US administration

Anthony Gardner (center).
Anthony Gardner (center). Source: (Reuters/Scanpix)

The experienced business leaders in Trump's administration will hopefully ensure some continuity in the seven decades of bipartisan support for European integration, Anthony Gardner, former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union, said in an interview with BNS. Gardner will attend the Lennart Meri Conference later this week.

“Although the rhetoric of the Trump administration toward the European Union has indeed improved after a disastrous start, we have to wait to see whether sustained engagement now follows the good words expressed during the visits of Vice President [Mike] Pence and Secretary [Rex] Tillerson to Europe,” Gardner said.

Although the president had recently said that he was “all in favor” of the EU if the Europeans were for it, he had repeatedly expressed skeptical, even hostile views about the European Union—clearly reflecting advice he had received from Nigel Farage and his White House adviser, Steve Bannon, Gardner said.

“Trump was a supporter of Brexit and thought that other European countries should follow Britain’s lead. Fortunately, Prime Minister [Theresa] May told him in the Oval Office that, while she must deliver Brexit, a prosperous, stable, integrated and democratic Europe is in the fundamental national interests of the UK and that the UK does not desire a breakup.”

Gardner added that he was concerned that this administration clearly disdained multilateralism and undervalued the contributions of the EU. At the same time, “I remain cautiously hopeful that the experienced business leaders in this administration will ensure some continuity in the seven decades of bipartisan support for European integration,” he said.

The business community understood well what the EU had done for European growth, stability, and prosperity, and especially how it had promoted US jobs, exports, and investments in Europe.

European Union and United States should settle on less ambitious version of TTIP

Garner also said that it may be advisable for the U.S. and the EU to settle on a less ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that could include regulatory sectoral cooperation.

“The recent meeting between EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross indicates that there may still be hope of continuing at least some aspects of the TTIP agenda,” Gardner said.

President Donald Trump’s strong protectionist tendencies, his promise to make America great by buying and hiring American, and the clear desire of his trade advisers to use U.S. trade laws to unilaterally enact trade defense measures without going through the WTO had all made transatlantic relations even more complicated.

Gardner told BNS that many of the tough issues in TTIP, including government procurement, geographical indications, maritime services, and tariffs on agricultural goods now appeared too difficult to solve.

In that sense it may be advisable for the U.S. and the EU to settle on a less ambitious TTIP, one that would include regulatory sectoral cooperation, and to focus on a common international trade agenda that would include working even more closely together at the WTO against unfair trade practices of third countries, especially China.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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