EU and US start negotiations on trade and investment agreement
© European Union, 2013. From left: President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, President of the United States of America Barack Obama, President of the Commission José Manuel Barroso and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
On 17 June, at the G8 summit in Lough Erne (UK), Presidents Van Rompuy, Barroso and Obama officially launched the bilateral negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The negotiations will cover three main components: market access, regulatory issues including non-tariff barriers, and the agreement's rules.
"Together Europe and the United States are the backbone of the world economy, nearly half of world GDP and a third of world trade. Opening up that space further for opportunities for businesses and consumers is simple good common sense", said President Van Rompuy at the press conference.
"It shows the political will to work together with our most trusted partner on the essential objective for governments on either side of the Atlantic: growth, jobs and prosperity", said the President.
The estimated impact of the agreement
The comprehensive agreement will seek to attain market access that goes beyond what the US and the EU have achieved in previous trade agreements. One of its key objectives is to cut red tape and non-tariff barriers to facilitate trade.
This should increase the compatibility between regulations on both sides, making it easier and faster for companies to do business together.
Consumers will benefit too: the agreement should lower consumer prices and bring, on average, an extra €545 in disposable income each year for a family of four living in the EU.
The agreement is estimated to create about two million jobs in the EU and increase its GDP by between 0.27 % and 0.48 %, while EU gross national income is expected to rise by up to € 86 billion.
Exports are expected to increase 6% in the EU and 8% in the US.
Audiovisual services will not be covered in the negotiating mandate, but the Commission will have the possibility to make recommendations on additional negotiating mandates.
At the Foreign Affairs Council for Trade press conference, EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht gave his assurance that the agreement would not lower the EU's domestic environmental, labour, privacy or safety standards, or consumer protection policies.
The European Commission will negotiate on behalf of the EU and its member states, keeping the Trade Policy Committee and the European Parliament regularly informed and updated. The final agreement will be concluded by the Council and the member states after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
The EU ministers approved the launch of negotiations and the negotiating directives on Friday 14 June at their meeting in Luxembourg.
The decision to negotiate stems from the recommendations of a high-level working group on jobs and growth, established following an EU-US summit in Washington DC in November 2011.
The working group's task was to discover ways to increase trade and investment. Co-chaired by EU trade commissioner Karel de Gucht and US trade representative Ron Kirk, it published its final report in February 2013.
The European Council in February 2013 called on the Commission and the Council to follow up without delay on the recommendations of the high-level working group.
Trade is an exclusive power of the European Union, and the Commission negotiates international agreements on the EU's behalf.
EU-US current trade flows
The EU and the US together account for about half of the world's GDP. Their daily trade in goods and services is worth approximately €2 billion.
The US is the EU's biggest export market, buying €264 billion of EU products annually, i.e. 17% of total EU exports.
The transatlantic trade in services amounts to around €260 billion per year.
Total US investment in the EU is three times higher than in all of Asia, and EU investment in the US is around eight times the amount of EU investment in India and China combined.
Overall, transatlantic trade relations support around 15 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
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