Negotiations in the world’s largest free trade agreement are making headway and could vastly expand trading opportunities for the United States and Europe, according to David O’Sullivan, European Union (EU) Ambassador to the United States.
O’Sullivan was the featured guest at a joint reception hosted by the British American Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, international chambers of commerce, the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce and The World Trade Center Delaware.
In his first official visit to the region, O’Sullivan offered an update on the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), currently being negotiated between the United States and the European Union, considered the world’s largest free trade agreement. Goals include easier market access for American and European companies, as well as alignment of regulatory and trade rules.
Citing the need for comprehensive policies to generate growth in open markets, O’Sullivan said a trade agreement between the United States and the European Union is an opportunity to update regulations toward generating streamlined trade options.
The result could be open markets for sectors like automobiles or pharmaceuticals and chemicals, where standards are generally the same but trade is prohibited.
“There are many areas where we could reduce costs without lowering standards,” said O’Sullivan. “We’re making very good progress.”
He added that a trade deal could result in 30 percent of the world gross domestic product.
Negotiations have taken center state in Europe, where discussion has focused on just how both sides can craft a regulatory agreement without compromising standards for at least one side. According to O’Sullivan, 58 percent of people in Europe say they would support TTIP.
“You have the law of comparative advantage,” said O’Sullivan, regarding trade markets. O’Sullivan suggested that while many markets could mass produce the same product, each is best served by focusing on those industries they produce most efficiently.
Eliminating tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade are also crucial to a successful agreement. The ambassador conceded those points have presented some obstacles during negotiations.
Some opponents of TTIP argue it will mean a lowering of standards and regulations, and an increase in competition as protective barriers to trade and investment are removed.
According to O’Sullivan, “artificial and imagined fears that hormone-fed beef will be imposed” were simply untrue.
Gov. Jack Markell, who also attended the event, said Delaware must focus on investing in a skilled workforce at home and engaging the world through a robust exporting plan.
The European Union and United States will continue their 12th round of talks on TTIP next month in Brussels. The European Union is represented in the United States by the Washington, D.C., delegation of the European Union, which works with the embassies and consulates of the 28 EU member states.
The BABC of Greater Philadelphia has been promoting increased trade and investment between the United Kingdom and the Greater Philadelphia region, including southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware for 25 years, according to BABC officials.
The event was held earlier this month at the Hercules Building on Market Street.