The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP for short, is one of US Ambassador Denise Campbell Bauer’s highest priorities for the year. Last week, in a speech to the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (FEB-VBO), she presented the case for this historic agreement. Here are the key takeaways.
1. TTIP is based on our shared values.
America and Europe are both market economies, founded on democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law.
“The United States and the European Union share a common foundation of democracy, rule of law, and dedication to open markets. We agree on maintaining protections for consumers, the environment and for labor.”
2. TTIP creates the largest free trade zone in the world.
The United States and Europe are already each other’s most important trading partners, with trade volumes reaching $1 trillion per year. A comprehensive agreement will bring these economies even closer together.
"A free trade zone between the European Union and the United States would encompass nearly half of the world’s economy. Such an agreement would unleash tremendous economic potential.”
3. TTIP eliminates tariffs.
For most goods, tariffs between the EU and US are already low, but considering the sheer volume of transatlantic trade, eliminating the few remaining tariffs will produce direct benefits.
“Eliminating tariffs would free up larger companies to reinvest millions in savings into product development, or the savings could be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices.”
4. TTIP promotes regulatory cooperation and convergence.
In addition, TTIP seeks to reduce or remove non-tariff barriers to trade, which are often imposed in the form of differing regulations. Many of these regulations are designed to achieve the same goal – high standards of quality and safety – but employ different methods. By encouraging regulators from both sides of the Atlantic to work together, TTIP will help cut red tape, which will be especially beneficial for smaller firms.
“Some analyses say that up to three-quarters of the total benefits of a successful TTIP agreement will depend on our ability to reduce or eliminate these redundant and unnecessary hurdles… [b]etter harmonized regulations will allow Belgian companies to sell their products in the United States with less red tape. That means greater efficiency and greater profit.”
5. TTIP raises standards.
To be clear, TTIP will not be used as a cover to weaken environmental protection, social and cultural rights, or health and safety standards in either the EU or US.
“I want to stress that, on standards, we do not seek the lowest common denominator. Instead, we want a race to the top, to the best standards.”
— VBO-FEB (@VBOFEB) January 13, 2015
6. TTIP opens new markets for companies of all sizes.
TTIP will provide better access for companies, however large or small, to an overseas market.
“That in short is the real promise of TTIP – the opportunity for businesses of any size in Belgium and the United States to have unfettered access to the two largest and most robust economic markets in the world."
7. TTIP generates economic growth and employment.
The increased economic activity resulting from a comprehensive agreement will spur job creation.
“If TTIP becomes a reality, even more export jobs will be created. And these jobs tend to be higher-skilled and, therefore, higher paying.”
8. TTIP increases economic competitiveness and consumer choice.
Opening markets will increase competition, driving down prices and increasing choice, while impelling companies to step up their game.
“More trade will lead to more choices and savings for consumers, and longer-term competitiveness and higher quality jobs for businesses of all sizes.”
9. TTIP helps set global trade rules.
With global trade talks stalled, TTIP has the potential to set the bar for international trade: if the two largest economies in the world can agree on a common set of rules, other countries will have to rise to their level.
“With TTIP, we have the ability together to set the future rules of trade. This will position the United States and Europe to create the high global standards that all other countries will have to meet to compete in our markets. TTIP would set a standard for future regional and global deals that reflect the value we place on rules-based trade, high standards, and regulatory transparency and accountability.”
AmCham Belgium looks forward to working with both the federal and regional governments and other stakeholders to ensure the passage of this important agreement, strengthening the already strong bilateral trade and investment relationship between Belgium and the US and ensuring our future prosperity.
The full text of the Ambassador’s speech is available here.