Conversations in Diplomacy: Karel de Gucht

Mar. 20, 2015 Series: Conversations in Diplomacy

Former EU Trade Commissioner on TTIP and the geostrategic relevance of trade

In this “Conversation in Diplomacy" with former EU Trade Commissioner and 2015 spring Fisher Family Fellow, Karel de Gucht, the Future of Diplomacy Project Director R. Nicholas Burns examines TTIP and the geostrategic relevance of trade.

As previous lead negotiator and advisor for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), former EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht expresses strong doubts about the conclusion of the TTIP trade agreement under President Obama. "For me it is not clear at all that President Obama wants this to be part of his legacy," states de Gucht. Reflecting on other obstacles to TTIP from the European side, de Gucht examines European concerns regarding ISDS (Investor-state dispute settlement) and differing health and safety standards between the Europeans and the Americans.

De Gucht asserts that "this kind of agreement [TTIP] only makes sense if it is ambitious; it should be groundbreaking." Highlighting the "geostrategic relevance" of TTIP, de Gucht advocates for the EU and the U.S. to play a shared and leading role in setting the norms and standards for global trade "in an open architecture" that would counter the influence of countries such as China. De Gucht maintains that TTIP's significance lies less in increasing employment globally and more in leading the next generations by having a "grip on the evolution" of the economy.

Reflecting on President Obama's prioritization of TPP over TTIP, de Gucht argues that it is consistent with the political capital that the American President has invested in the "pivot to Asia" strategy" and is an economic strategy to contain China's influence in the region. It's about politics," maintains de Gucht. "if they [U.S.] lose that battle [with China], it would be politically disastrous."


For more information on this publication: Please contact Future of Diplomacy Project
For Academic Citation:Conversations in Diplomacy: Karel de Gucht.” News, , March 20, 2015.