The U.K. ambassador to the United States said last week his nation is hopeful for a quick commencement and conclusion of trade negotiations between the United States and European Union.
The so-called Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnerships (TTIP) would bring free trade benefits to the two biggest trading blocs in the world. President Obama announced an intent to pursue the pact during his State of the Union address earlier this year.
“We were delighted that the president made the commitment,” said Ambassador Peter Westmacott during a briefing at the National Foreign Trade Council office in Washington April 18.
Westmacott said the United Kingdom would like to see negotiations on the agreement launched in June, around the time of the upcoming G8 summit in Northern Ireland, and finished by the end of 2104, “to get it done on one tank of gas,” he said.
He trumpeted the economic growth benefits of such a pact: “considering we’re talking about half of the world’s GDP, it’s not a small amount.”
Westmacott said the major points will be eliminating recurring tariffs on goods and removing technical barriers to trade.
As an example of the latter, he pointed to the lack of access in Europe for U.S. beef and other meat exports, while agricultural exporters in Europe face similar restrictions in the U.S. market.
Another example: why can U.S. companies own 49 percent of an airline in Europe, but European companies can only own 25 percent of a U.S. airline, he asked.
Westmacott also said the agreement provides an avenue for regulatory convergence across the Atlantic.
“We ought to steal a march in setting global standards,” he said.
Aside from agriculture, which Westmacott said “has to be in the deal,” the United Kingdom would like to see financial services included in the discussions.
“There’s lots of work to be done,” he said.
The TTIP is seen as a way to make significant progress on trade issues despite stalled progress on multilateral Doha Rounds that Westmacott called “disappointing.”
“We are doing the business where it can be done,” he said. “It’s not seen as a replacement for a multilateral round.” - Eric Johnson