European Commission - Press release
EU trade chief travels to USA and Central America to foster transatlantic trade ties
Brussels, 20 June 2011 - EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will travel to Washington this week where he will meet with representatives of the US Administration, Congress and business to discuss the way forward in the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) of international trade talks and the further development of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) as a key instrument of transatlantic relations. He will then travel to Guatemala, to represent the European Union at the International Central America Security Strategy Conference. Together with Trade and Foreign Affairs Ministers of Central America who he will meet at this occasion and on his further stop in Costa Rica, he will underline their joint commitment to a speedy ratification and implementation of the EU - Central America Association Agreement which in its comprehensive trade pillar foresees to fully open both markets for industrial exports.
In Washington, Commissioner De Gucht will meet with Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk on 21 June. Both play a central role in defining US trade policy and De Gucht will make the case for a successful conclusion of the DDA and concrete delivery of results by the TEC. The TEC received a strong boost at its meeting in December 2010 and implementation as well as preparation of this year's meeting is in full swing. The fostering of bilateral relations and notably investment will be central elements of the visit, which also includes a key-note address to the US Chamber of Commerce.
In Guatemala, Commissioner De Gucht will represent the EU amongst Heads of States of all Central American countries at the high-level International Conference in Support of the Central America Security Strategy on 22-23 June. At this occasion, the Commissioner is set to meet all Trade and Foreign Ministers of the region to discuss how to move forward their respective legislative procedures to allow for a rapid ratification and implementation of the Association Agreement, the EU and Central America initialled in March this year. Commissioner De Gucht will finish his trip with a visit to Costa Rica, the EU's main trading partner in the region, where he will meet the Minister of Foreign Trade, Anabel Gonzalez, and engage with the regional business community and the civil society in a public event to discuss the implementation of the Association Agreement.
The Transatlantic Economic Council
The Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) was created in 2007 and has the task to oversee, guide and accelerate the implementation of work designed to closer integrate the EU and US economies. The TEC brings together those Members of the European Commission and US Cabinet Members who carry the political responsibility for closer economic ties. It covers areas like regulatory cooperation, innovation, secure trade and e-mobility.
The TEC is co-chaired by the EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht on the EU side and Michael Froman (US deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs) on the US side. At the last TEC meeting, which took place on 17 December 2010 in Washington DC, an ambitious cooperation agenda was agreed. The next TEC meeting will most likely take place in the second half of 2011.
EU-US trade relations
The link between the EU and US economies remains strong. Despite the crisis, it is the strongest in the world. The EU and the US are each other's main trading partners. Trade in goods amounts to around more than €1 billion every day, reaching € 411 billion in 2010. The EU and the US absorb about 20% of each other's exports in goods, and about 30% of each other's exports in services. Total FDI stocks held in each others countries reach approximately €2.1 trillion, unrivalled in size and depth compared to any other investment relationship in the world. The overall "transatlantic workforce" is estimated at up to 15 million people, of which roughly half are Americans who owe their jobs directly or indirectly to EU companies.
International Conference in Support of the Central America Security Strategy
Due to the worsening security situation in the region, Central America (through the Central American Integration System, SICA) has launched a comprehensive regional security strategy. In this perspective an International Conference has been organised in Guatemala with all actors and donors present, such as Heads of States and regional organisations. The purpose of this Conference is to improve the coordination between international donors and to define financial contributions to support the Central American strategy.
Association Agreement with Central America
The EU and Central America (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) have negotiated an Association Agreement, consisting of a comprehensive trade pillar. The EU and Central America have initialled the Agreement on 23 March 2011 in Brussels and are now moving forward to signature and ratification. Once ratified and implemented, this region-to-region agreement will fundamentally improve and upgrade the relationship between the EU and Central America, opening up markets on both sides, helping establish a stable business and investment environment and foster sustainable development. The Agreement is also meant to reinforce regional economic integration in Central America and the EU wants it to have a positive spill-over effect on the overall political integration process and stability of the region. In 2010, bilateral trade in goods between Central America and the European Union was worth €12 billion.
For further information
On bilateral trade relations with the United States and on the TEC:
Association Agreement with Central America
John Clancy (+32 2 295 37 73)
Helene Banner (+32 2 295 24 07)