Could A US-EU Free Trade Deal Harm The WTO?

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March 13 (Bloomberg Law) -- In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama announced plans to negotiate and execute a free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. Jim Bacchus, partner at Greenberg Traurig LLP and former Democratic congressman from Florida, thinks a new deal could spur growth on both sides. "If I were still in the Congress. . . I would undoubtedly vote for it," he tells Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia. See more +
March 13 (Bloomberg Law) -- In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama announced plans to negotiate and execute a free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. Jim Bacchus, partner at Greenberg Traurig LLP and former Democratic congressman from Florida, thinks a new deal could spur growth on both sides. "If I were still in the Congress. . . I would undoubtedly vote for it," he tells Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia.

While a modest free trade deal between the world's two largest economies would yield $180 billion in growth over five years, a more ambitious deal could yield substantially more, he says.

Despite the apparent benefits, some critics worry that a new free trade agreement could be negotiated in a way that harms the current global trade system. The deal "raises fundamental questions about the future of the world trading system that the United States has spent half a century building," says Bacchus, who formerly served as a chairman of the WTO'S appellate body.

A new free trade agreement could boost business for large law firms in several different ways. Negotiating and implementing the deal itself will spur trade and investment work for firms. In addition, as the globalization trends associated with free trade continue, law firms will probably see an increase in cross border transactional work, Bacchus says. There is also the possibility that the agreement could open up new markets for American lawyers.

Bacchus also points out that there are restrictions preventing lawyers from doing domestic work in certain countries. "When the WTO finally gets to the question of addressing legal services. . . my colleagues in the bar will truly begin to understand the overall significance of the WTO." See less -

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