TTIP has potential to create 'growth and jobs', says De Gucht

Written by Kayleigh Rose Lewis on 5 May 2014 in News
News

EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht has told a dialogue event on the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) that both the EU and US need to be "ambitious".

Speaking at the event in Berlin, attended by German finance minister Sigma Gabriel and US trade ambassador Michael Froman, De Gucht outlined his priorities for the upcoming negotiations.

He said, "This deal has potential. It can create a lot of growth and jobs. It can improve the choice for consumers and lower the prices citizens pay for products and services. It can help both the EU and the US maintain our position in a changing world.

"But it can only do these three things if we are ambitious."

The Belgian official explained, "The agreement can only create growth and jobs if we make it easier for companies to trade across the Atlantic. That means increasing access to the American market for European firms, and vice versa.

"That challenge needs to be tackled from all angles," he said, adding, "But for all its complexity, the practical reality of this negotiation is simple.

"Either we reach a deal that creates real new opportunities for both sides while staying true to the values of both sides or we will fail."

He told attendees that this also makes the objectives "very simple" and that in order to achieve the negotiating sides need to "aim high", "remember our values" and "work together".

"This deal has potential. It can create a lot of growth and jobs. It can improve the choice for consumers and lower the prices citizens pay for products and services. It can help both the EU and the US maintain our position in a changing world"- Karel De Gucht

"People in Germany, the rest of Europe and the United States will only benefit if the eventual deal actually creates many new opportunities for companies to trade," he said.

"The reason we can aim high is because we have many values in common. But we also know we have different societal choices on important issues. So the deal - and the negotiation - needs to respect both the values we share and our right to disagree."

"If we want this to work we need a deal that works for people on both sides of the Atlantic.

He continued, "That means we need huge cooperative effort within the European Union, between the European commission and the US trade representative and also among the many actors in the US who have a stake in this deal.

"We wish to eliminate as many tariffs as possible, tariffs are low on average but high for many exporters," adding, "Improved market access for services companies is equally important.

"I am convinced: if we make solid progress on all three of these pillars of market access the agreement is to boost growth and jobs," urged De Gucht.

However, he said, "They are not enough. We also need to make it easier for companies doing business across the Atlantic to comply with both European and American regulations.

"Regulatory costs are particularly important for the small businesses that make up 30 per cent of EU exports and 99 per cent of all companies here.

"Complying with regulation is often a fixed cost - meaning it weighs more on smaller firms than bigger ones.

"The final gain from TTIP," he said, "Would be to strengthen the partnership between the two largest economies in the world, and in doing so prepare for the changed world of the 21st century.

"One fact about the 21st century economy is that it is more integrated than ever: the value of world trade is about 30 per cent of the value of global output.

"But, he concluded, "As you might guess - that also requires us to be ambitious."

Froman, the US ambassador for trade, also spoke about the importance of a TTIP, saying, "Consider this: the United States and the EU account for nearly half of all global output and one-third of global trade.

He said that the exchange of goods and services between the United States and the EU "fuels our economies" and amounts to a trillion dollars [€0.72 trillion] every year, while the investment relationship between the two amounts to 4 trillion dollars [€2.9 trillion] annually.

"That’s more than a statistic. It means a plant or an office, in your town.  It means stability and economic security.

"And it means jobs - more than 13 million direct jobs on both sides of the Atlantic are sustained by transatlantic trade," explained the US official.  

"We’re seeking an ambitious and comprehensive agreement in TTIP, one that brings benefits to workers, farmers, businesses and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic"-Michael Froman

"But, he added, "we know we can, and must, do better".  

"We are negotiating the [TTIP] to create opportunity, especially for small and medium-sized businesses, and to help shape global rules, consistent with our shared values.

"We’re seeking an ambitious and comprehensive agreement in TTIP, one that brings benefits to workers, farmers, businesses and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Making progress on the issues won’t be easy. There will be some bumps in the road.  But our experience tells us that nothing worth doing is ever easy.  

He finished, "I for one look forward to working hand-in-hand with Germany and the EU to achieve this important goal".

About the author

Kayleigh Rose Lewis is a journalist at the Parliament Magazine

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