First round of negotiations for the Trans-Atlantic free trade agreement (FTA) between Europe and the EU began in the US capital of Washington on Monday.
US Trade Representative Michael Froman, Deputy US Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro, and Chief Negotiators Dan Mullaney (US) and Ignacio Garcia-Bercero (EU) were present in the meeting along with their negotiating teams.
Froman gave introductory remarks at the opening plenary of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP.
“Although negotiations are just beginning, this day has been a long time coming. From the evolution of the Transatlantic Economic Council to the work of the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group for Jobs and Growth, our teams have been laying the foundation for today’s negotiations by identifying the opportunities to bring our two economies closer together and the mechanisms for doing so," he said at his opening remarks.
Stating that in TTIP, they had the opportunity to accomplish something very significant for their economies, relationship, and for the global trading system as a whole, Froman said, “We have an opportunity to spur growth and to generate significant increases in the already substantial number of jobs supported by transatlantic trade and investment. We have the opportunity to complement one of the greatest alliances of all time with an equally compelling economic relationship. And we have the opportunity to work together to establish and enforce international norms and standards that will help inform and strengthen the multilateral, rules-based trading system."
Touching on the possible obstacles of the process, Froman said, “We go into this exercise with eyes wide open. We know there will be challenges. But we also know that there is strong political will at the highest levels on both sides of the Atlantic determined to stay focused and get this done on one tank of gas. I have every confidence that we can achieve this goal."
“Promoting growth, creating jobs, strengthening the middle class – these are the principles that animate President Obama’s economic policies, including this Administration’s trade policy," he noted.
He reiterated President Obama's statements Northern Ireland last month where he said T-TIP could be a success if “we can achieve the kind of high-standard, comprehensive agreement that the global trading system is looking to us to develop."
Addressing the negotiators, Froman said, “We will give our teams the space they need to move forward and find solutions, but we will stay very closely engaged to ensure that we are finding those solutions. We want you to avoid unnecessary delays, but we also recognize that the most important thing is to get the substance right. We need to resist the temptation to downsize our ambitions or avoid tough issues just for the sake of getting a deal."
Ambassador Froman closed his remarks by encouraging negotiators to “be creative, be flexible, and think outside of the box as necessary to make progress” and achieve an “outcome that meets the economic priorities of both the United States and the European Union.”
The first round of TTIP negotiations will continue throughout the week.