Hi fellow trade nerds, my name is Lara Giannelli and I am the new intern at WCIT! And yes – you guessed it, I am Italian! While I know everyone is talking about the TPP, today I’m reporting on the other big trade agreement being negotiated between the U.S. and the EU that often gets left out of the conversation – the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Being Italian-American, this is the trade deal that’s really near and dear to my heart. The TTIP has numerous benefits for the U.S. and Washington state – not to mention the benefits of more streamlined trade with Italy: bring on the pizza, pasta and Italian shoes!
This week, the TTIP is going through its 12th round of negotiations in Brussels. Negotiators from the EU and the US are hoping to make progress on some tough issues, from investor protections and how to model an investor state dispute settlement system (ISDS) to public procurement laws and labor and environmental rules. While taking on sensitive topics like these is difficult, finding common ground is essential if we hope for TTIP to stimulate growth in both EU and US economies through expanding market access and lowering regulatory trade barriers.
The European Union is one of Washington state’s largest trading partners, and collectively accounted for almost 10 percent of Washington’s goods exports in 2014, making this deal especially beneficial to Washington residents. The European Union population of nearly 500 million offers Washington’s farmers, retailers, and manufacturers a large and diverse consumer market, which has the potential to create more jobs here in Washington. In fact, the TTIP could create an estimated 17,000 new jobs in our state and increase our exports to the EU by 26 percent.
Earlier this month, Martin Donnelly, Permanent Secretary for the United Kingdom’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the UK Government’s trade policy and commerce department, visited Seattle to discuss the benefits of TTIP. During the discussion, Donnelly mentioned current regulatory systems in place between the U.S. and the EU which make it hard to manufacture and distribute in both the US and EU without costly regulatory processes. For example, cars must go through crash tests in both the US and EU to be sold in both markets, even though the tests are redundant. TTIP aims to streamline these rules and regulations so that one policy counts for both the US and EU.
Negotiations on the TTIP have been ongoing since 2013. Permanent Secretary Donnelly said he would like for the TTIP negotiations to be concluded quickly or momentum may be lost. With so much to gain from this agreement, I too hope that negotiations don’t fizzle as we enter election season – I’m too eager to have more abundant Italian pasta shipments and to see more Washington products being sold in Italy!