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TTIP- Progress After the Latest Round of Talks?

May 04, 2016

Since the 2013 announcement that negotiations were to begin between the EU and the US to agree a trade agreement, Chambers Ireland has been leading the way in calling for a trade deal that specifically works in the interests of SMEs.

Ireland has a lot to gain from strengthened transatlantic economic relations. However, we have even more to be gained if the trade deal is accessible to our SMEs as well as our large companies and multinationals.

The 13th Round of Negotiations took place in New York last week from the 25th to 29th April. Following on from a visit by US President Barack Obama to Hanover and a meeting between Commissioner Malmström and Ambassador Froman from the US, the focus for negotiations has been on getting political agreement to significantly advance the trade negotiations this year so that negotiations are concluded before President Obama leaves office.

Also up for discussion last week were a number of key technical matters. At the end of the 13th Round, EU Chief Negotiator Ignacio García Bercero outlined in his statement the details of what was discussed under each Chapter. Of particular interest to the Chamber Network are the discussions on the SME Chapter and Customs and Trade Facilitation. According to updates from the Commission, substantial progress was made on the SME Chapter, the first of its kind, which aims to enable smaller firms to make the most of the trade agreement. Additionally, reports of positive progress on provisions relating to customs and trade facilitation are welcome as an ambitious Chapter would go a long way in both simplifying procedures and reducing costs, which directly benefits smaller businesses and helps them trade more easily.

The goal of both negotiating teams is to conclude the negotiations before the end of 2016. However, this goal will not be without its obstacles. Over the weekend, Greenpeace NL released documents, as part of #TTIPLeaks, which they claim confirms their opinion that TTIP will lower environmental, health and safety standards.  Commissioner Malmström swiftly denied such claims in a blog post publicised after the leak, stating that the Commission is committed to retaining our high standards, in all areas of regulation. Similarly, a spokesman for the US Trade Representative (USTR), which is leading the negotiations with the European Commission, said of the Greenpeace documents “The interpretations being given to these texts appear to be misleading at best and flat out wrong at worst”. Both the EU and US have repeatedly stated that negotiations for an EU-US trade agreement will in no way impact the high regulatory, health and safety standards that currently exist within both trading blocs.

Here in Chambers Ireland, we want to see an ambitious trade agreement and we are fully in favour of making progress in the negotiations. However, we do not believe TTIP should equate lower standards in regulation. Instead we want a trade agreement that is accessible to SMEs and that makes trade and transatlantic business easier. The trade deal presents enormous opportunities for the EU and the US and it would be hugely disappointing to miss this chance to bring both our economies closer together.

For more information on the trade negotiations, please visit the Commission’s website that detailshttp://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/in-focus/ttip/

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