By Isaac Cohen*
Despite the protectionist rhetoric emanating from the political campaign in the United States, President Barack Obama spent the weekend in Western Europe promoting trade negotiations. After a stop in Saudi Arabia, President Obama flew to London to participate in the celebrations of Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday.
Once there, he did not ignore the forthcoming British referendum on leaving or staying in the European Union. At a press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron, who leads the “Stay” campaign, President Obama said there might be a trade agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States, as proposed by the supporters of the “Leave” campaign.
However, the President added, “it’s not going to happen anytime soon,” because the US priority is to negotiate with the European Union, rather than “piecemeal agreements.” Therefore, “the UK is going to be in the back of the queue.”
From London, President Obama flew to Hannover, Germany, to inaugurate with Chancellor Angela Merkl the world’s largest industrial trade fair. As leaders of the largest economies involved, both expressed strong support for concluding this year the negotiations to set up the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
As explained by President Obama, “upcoming political transitions, in the United States and Europe, could mean this agreement won’t be finished for quite some time.”
*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio. Former Director, UNECLAC.