It’s a chilly afternoon in Washington, D.C., but things are warm on the campus of George Washington University. I just had a chance to meet with a wide range of people from businesses to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to consumer groups. Their common interest? Trade. More specifically, trade between the United States and the European Union. They had gathered to meet trade representatives from both the United States and the European Union who are in Washington this week for the third round of talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).
What is T-TIP and why does it matter? Why are people from different countries gathering on a frosty DC afternoon to talk trade? It’s because we see T-TIP as a chance to negotiate an ambitious, comprehensive, and high-standard trade and investment agreement that offers significant benefits in terms of promoting U.S. international competitiveness, jobs, and growth. It’s good for the United States and it’s good for the European Union.
I was impressed by the level of interest in the T-TIP discussions from this diverse group of people. This only reinforces how important this agreement could be for both the United States and the European Union, and gives us a good opportunity to hear a range of views on what should and should not be part of the agreement; not everyone agrees, but everyone was heard. While the issues facing us are complex and challenging, both sides are committed to looking for common ground and creative solutions to long-standing bilateral concerns.
The main goal of T-TIP is to lower barriers to trade. Lowering tariffs benefits consumers on both sides of the Atlantic by reducing costs. Consumers will also benefit through T-TIP if we can improve the way our systems protect our citizens. And workers and small business owners will benefit, too, as T-TIP helps us build faster-growing and more productive economies and the flow of trade increases in both directions across the Atlantic.
But as we address trade barriers we’re working hard to maintain high standards of health, environmental, and consumer protection that Americans and Europeans expect. We’ve been able to reduce non-tariff barriers to trade without undermining regulatory protections in all of our previous trade agreements. T-TIP will be no different.
I look forward to hearing from the negotiators about the results of their work this week and as they continue to move forward in the coming year.