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15th May 2021

Opinion

EU-US trade - the value of shared values

  • EU-US trade talks are an 'historical window of opportunity' (Photo: European Commission)

The EU and the US will soon be launching negotiations for a Transatlantic Trade and lnvestment Partnership (TTIP), one of the most ambitious bilateral initiatives in the world to create jobs and growth through trade and investment.

The United States and the European Union represent about half of the world output and are responsible for almost one third of global trade flows. In fact, annual bilateral trade of goods and services account yearly for almost one trillion dollars while aggregate investment stock are in excess of € 2 trillion.

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Huge benefits are expected from this initiative. According to the estimates of the European Commission an ambitious and comprehensive agreement would bring overall annual gains of 0.4% of GDP. The economic situation in Europe obliges us to

be proactive. We have to provide our companies and professionals with the best possible conditions to provide their goods and services in both markets.

We are now preparing the negotiations on both sides of the Atlantic. Our challenge is much deeper than traditional barriers such as tariffs. We need to tap the unexploited potential of our bilateral relations by tackling limitations on investment, public procurement, trade in services and intellectual property. We will also be seeking to find innovative methods to avoid unnecessary costs to business posed by technical regulation. Whilst at the same time ensuring the protection of health, security, labour standards, the environment, and the preservation of our cultural values.

We are also committed to talking about our regulatory systems and learning from the experience of companies, regulatory authorities and all relevant stakeholders. We believe Europe and the United States can show that is possible to reconcile different regulatory approaches if there is the determination to do it. For some sectors we will have to improve the existing agreements for mutual recognition, in other cases we will have to commit to develop rules that are not equal, but at least equivalent. And for many new sectors we are ready to agree on common regulations.

We expect negotiations to cover a wide range of sectors, in a way that has not been explored in previous negotiations. In our aim to eliminate unnecessary costs to business we will have to look at sectoral regulations and practices that have been developed over decades on both sides of the Atlantic. Our commitment is not to reach a single agreement, but to develop new ways to make TTIP a "living agreement", that will adapt to changes in the future.

We assume these are going to be difficult negotiations. Particular sensitivities will arise as soon as the European Commission and the US authorities start negotiations. Both sides may fear the other is more competitive in certain areas while specific interests will demand protection for their own niche areas. But that fear should not prevent us from talking about all relevant issues and sectors; even those most sensitive to us. For the greater good, we will need to push our particular interests to the background. It is at times of change when we need to show our strong commitment to move ahead.

There is now an historical window of opportunity, both in political and economic terms, to face together new challenges that will determine the ways to do business in decades to come. By raising our bilateral standards we hope to promote higher standards with other partners both in bilateral and multilateral initiatives.

The writers are Jaime Garcia-Legaz, Spanish Secretary of State for Trade and Dr Vince Cable, UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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