Brussels, 12 March 2013
European Commission Fires Starting Gun for EU-US Trade Talks
The European Commission today agreed the draft mandate for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement with the United States, effectively firing the starting gun for what is hoped to be a relatively quick negotiation. The draft mandate will now be sent to the Council for the Member States to approve it before negotiations can start.
"I am very pleased that just one month after the announcement by the EU and the US to go for this ‘game-changing’ trade deal, the European Commission is ready with a proposed mandate for the future negotiations. We can now roll up our sleeves up and get down to the business of preparing negotiations," said European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "I hope that Member States will now quickly decide to open negotiations so work can begin with the United States before the summer break."
Last month, President of the United States of America Barack Obama, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced they were each starting the internal procedures necessary to launch negotiations on the much awaited trade agreement (MEMO/13/95). The negotiations will be based on the work of the EU-US High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth co-chaired by Commissioner De Gucht and United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk.
The EU and the US make up 40% of global economic output and their bilateral economic relationship is already the world’s largest. The aim of the high-standard Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to liberalise trade and investment between the two blocs.
According to a report released today by the European Commission (Reducing Transatlantic Barriers to Trade and Investment), the final agreement could see EU exports to the US rise by 28%, earning its exporters of goods and services an extra €187bn every year. Consumers will benefit too: on average, the agreement will offer an extra €545 in disposable income each year for a family of four living in the EU.
The European Union and the United States will have their eyes on more than just removing tariffs. Tariffs between them are already low (on average only 4%) so the main hurdles to trade lie 'behind the border' in regulations, non-tariff barriers and red tape. Estimates show that 80% of the overall potential wealth gains of a trade deal will come from cutting costs imposed by bureaucracy and regulations, as well as from liberalising trade in services and public procurement.
That's why the two trading giants will reinforce their regulatory cooperation, so to create similar regulations rather than have to try to adapt them at a later stage. The aim is to build a more integrated transatlantic marketplace, while respecting each side's right to regulate in a way that ensures the protection of health, safety and the environment at a level it considers appropriate. Both sides hope that by aligning their domestic standards, they will be able to set the benchmark for developing global rules. Such a move would be clearly beneficial to both EU and US exporters, but it would also strengthen the multilateral trading system.
For further information
MEMO/13/211: Independent study outlines benefits of EU-US trade agreement
MEMO/13/95: European Union and United States to launch negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
More information on the EU's trade relations with the United States: