In the framework of a study visit to Washington D.C., the regional office European Institutions and North America of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom gained more insight into the negotiation process for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). During a meeting in the House of Representatives, Geoffrey Antell, Trade Counsel to the Committee on Ways & Means of the U.S. House of Representatives and advisor to the Republican Members and staff on trade issues, gave some insight into the US American perspective.
Geoffrey explained that the House of Representatives gave the mandate to the federal administration to negotiate the agreement, however it keeps close oversight over the whole process and members of the House participate actively in the negotiations.
Unluckily, due to the government shutdown, the second negotiation round planned for early October in Brussels was cancelled. This overshadows the process and creates uncertainty about the pace of negotiations and how fast both parties will manage to agree on a deal. Further uncertainty is generated by certain oppositions to the trade deal on both sides of the Atlantic and the necessary approval of the deal by the European Parliament at the end of the negotiations. Seen from the US perspective, the European Parliament is a fairly unpredictable actor, as it has already proven with the rejection of ACTA.
Despite of the current challenges to the negotiations, Geoffrey pointed out that generally support for the trade deal throughout the House is very high, both on the Democrat as well as the Republican side, and also from some export oriented sectors of the economy like the automobile industry and agriculture. Geoffrey explained that broad bipartisan support guarantees that even though the majority would shift after next year’s midterm elections, the support for a deal that will create jobs for millions of people will remain very high.
Nonetheless, outside the political bubble, the negotiations have not yet received much public attention. A broad education and awareness raising effort has to be made on both sides of the Atlantic in order to inform the voters and businesses about the positive impact of such a deal. Indeed, the free trade agreement could set joint values and global standards.
The deal would be the most far reaching trade and investment agreement ever signed and create the biggest free trade zone of the world. Broad political support on both sides of the Atlantic lead to believe, that the deal could be struck relatively soon. Would the deal fly, it would probably allow the EU and the US to maintain their supremacy on the world stage; at least for some decades.
For more information read our report “Europa und USA – Endlich Weg frei für Freihandel?” (in German).