White House readies for European trade talks
The Obama administration on Wednesday notified Congress in a letter of its intent to enter into negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the European Union.
“The decision to launch negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership reflects the broadly shared conviction that transatlantic trade and investment can be an even stronger driver of mutual job creation, growth, and increased competitiveness,” the letter stated.
“The support for a comprehensive agreement that has been offered by a significant and diverse set of stakeholders boosts our confidence that it will be possible to find mutually acceptable solutions on difficult issues and conclude an agreement that will benefit U.S. workers,” the letter added. “With average U.S and EU tariffs already quite low, new and innovative approaches to reducing the adverse impact on transatlantic commerce of non-tariff barriers must be a significant focus of the negotiations.”
The economic relationship between the United States and European Union is already the world’s largest, accounting for one third of total goods and services trade and nearly half of global economic output. Transatlantic trade and investment currently supports 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, the White House said.
According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, last year the U.S.-EU economic relationship generated an estimated $2.7 billion in goods and services trade daily. In 2011, foreign direct investment between the European Union and United States totaled about $3.7 trillion.
U.S. industry generally supports the administration’s attempt to further cement trade relations with Europe.
“Although both sides acknowledge the great potential and importance of this agreement, the issues that divide us are not new. Particularly with respect to standards and regulations, past efforts to harmonize our differences have not been successful,” said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, in a statement. “However, this new attempt reflects the realization that together the EU and United States can best meet the new competitive challenges in the trading system by working together. Hopefully that will provide the momentum to successfully conclude this effort.”
“If these goals are achieved, the agreement will lead to increased economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic. We encourage the negotiators to work toward an ambitious agreement,” added Chuck Dittrich, NFTC’s vice president for regional trade initiatives.
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