Ieva Chaleckyte ’04 Speaks On European Trade Relations

Ieva Chaleckyte ’04 presented the last of the 2004 Abbot Scholar presentations, speaking about the trade conflicts between the United States and the European Union on Wednesday. Chaleckyte’s presentation, entitled “Conflict and Negotiation: The future of the European Union-United States Cooperation,” analyzed three different disputes between American and European interests. Her interest in American-European trade was sparked when she, a native of Lithuania, interned at the Lithuanian Free Market Institute last summer. Chaleckyte began her research by comparing international trade relations between the E.U. and the U.S. The first dispute Chaleckyte covered was concerning steel. “The Bush administration was protecting the interests of a very small but politically powerful interest group,” she said, referring to the government’s handling of the steel dispute. “The Banana War” was the second dispute on which Chaleckyte focused. She described how up to 75 percent of Latin American bananas are marketed by U.S. companies, such as Chiquita Banana. Due to the fact that the US does not sell these bananas in Europe, the bananas that Europeans get are less than quality. Touching on personal experience, Chaleckyte said, “I remember when one day, when I was in Kindergarten, I went home to my mom and said, Mom, they served us play dough at lunch today, and I was the only one who didn’t eat it…That was a banana, my mom replied.” Due to the lack of U.S. banana imports to Lithuania, Chaleckyte did not experience the taste of a banana until she was six years old. The Banana War resulted in “effective use of the World Trade Organization dispute system, as well as pressure on both sides of the Atlantic.” Differing philosophies on the role of government was the third dispute Chaleckyte discussed. This issue dates back to 1985 when the E.U. first decided that they wanted to ban a genetically altered meat to protect the health and safety of its customers. “The E.U. preferred to take action to head off potential problems through precautionary intervention,” while the U.S. chose to take a stance of non-intervention. She added, “in all disputes, domestic pressures are what the governments making the legislation are foremost concerned with.” When asked whether she sees hope for future trade between the U.S. and the E.U., Chaleckyte stated, “It’s a hard thing to speculate. I think the trade is going to change a lot because the relationship is going to change a lot, I’m hopeful that they don’t continue to squabble over unimportant issues.” She also added that “I think the E.U. is an awesome thing but I think it needs change.” Chaleckyte will attend Harvard University next fall, and study economics, possibly with a focus on Europe.