Has TTIP Run Out of Gas? How to Refuel and Kickstart It

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Date: Thursday, November 6, 2014 -5:00pm to 6:30pm

Location: Rayburn House Office Building, 45 Independence Avenue Southwest, B-318, Washington, DC

Last week, the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy hosted a timely and lively Georgetown on the Hill panel discussion on the status of and prospects for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Announced in June 2013 with presidential fanfare and exceptionally far-reaching goals, the agreement, which Prime Minister Cameron called the “most important trade pact of all time,” has stalled over a number of issues, some of which are well-entrenched in EU-US commercial practice.

Issues such as the protection of foreign investment, data flow, geographic indicators, and trade in services including cultural and maritime services, are among the issues holding up the talks. One of the most ambitious goals, building “regulatory compatibility,” has stalled on the United States’ refusal to include financial services in the talks. TTIP was intended to be negotiated quickly, “on one tank of gas,” but these many issues impede progress. TTIP leaders seem to have lost sight of the partnership’s broad strategic purposes and economic benefits.

Georgetown’s J. Bradford Jensen and Robert Vastine gave welcoming and introductory remarks. The featured panelists were Tim Bennett, Director General/CEO, Trans-Atlantic Business Council; Linda Dempsey, Vice President, International Economic Affairs, National Association of Manufacturers; Kathryn Hauser, Managing Partner, Policy Connections International; and Charles S. Levy, Partner, Cassidy Levy Kent.

The panelists in turn from their various industry and policy perspectives acknowledged the issues and answered the question, “How can TTIP be restarted?” They offered promising ideas and called for new thinking on the issues and new ways for the private sector – both business and civil society – to interact with the negotiators. Among the key points made by the panelists:

  • Both sides approached the negotiation as they have approached other FTA negotiations (e.g. US-Peru, EU-Korea) – even though this was a negotiation between equals.
  • In doing so, both sides have lost sight of the opportunity TTIP presents to set the global rules for 21st century issues like data flows and regulatory accommodation.
  • The imperative for growth on both sides of the Atlantic is still there, though perhaps more so for Europe. TTIP does provide potential for growth and jobs.
  • The stakes are very high – as is the urgency. The US and EU still account for close to half of the world GDP, though our share is decreasing over time and, with it, our ability to influence other major countries’ commercial practices.

The event was also covered in two media outlets on November 7: Politico, Morning Trade, “TTIP Deal by this Time Next Year?, (new window)” and Bloomberg BNA (new window) (subscription only) “China’s Role in Trade Agreements Dominates APEC Sideline Discussions.”