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EU-US Trade Talks Should Top Our 2014 To-Do List

Op-ed  by EU Ambassador Vale de Almeida – Published EU Delegation Website and Huffington Post

Negotiators from the European Union and United States are taking a well-deserved break after wrapping up the latest round of our Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks in Washington today.

We have been engaging our American counterparts on everything from tariffs on chocolate to car safety standards in talks this week. And we have been hard at work ever since President Barack Obama announced the launch of our talks in his State of the Union address earlier this year, noting that “trade that is fair and free across the Atlantic supports millions of good-paying American jobs.”

Following this third round, it is clear that we remain on track to deliver an ambitious trade and investment deal that should boost our economies, deliver growth and more importantly, jobs, for both Europeans and Americans. As we enter into 2014, we will take stock of our accomplishments thus far and develop plans to move this negotiation even further.

The thinking behind TTIP is very simple. The U.S.-EU economic relationship is already the world’s largest, accounting for one third of total goods and services trade and nearly half of global economic output. By getting rid of tariffs and useless red tape, removing roadblocks currently hampering trade and investment and aligning product standards and regulations at a high level, we will in essence create a robust transatlantic marketplace of 800 million consumers.

TTIP will give our economies a much-needed shot in the arm. Conservative estimates predict that a TTIP agreement will lead to close to a million new American jobs, and boost the U.S. economy by more than $100 billion per year — that’s equivalent to an extra $900 in the pocket of each American household annually. Estimates also show that the world’s economy stands to gain with a successful TTIP through a spike in global trade.

TTIP would be a trade deal among equals and the world would take note. We are democratic societies that believe in the power of free, open markets, but also firm defenders of the rule of law, the protection of intellectual property and meaningful health and environmental standards.

With the recent WTO deal reached in Bali we are finally seeing some momentum for global trade. A successful TTIP negotiation would keep this momentum going — the end result being more open markets around the world. And ultimately, it will lead to our joint goal of a stable, prosperous, rules-based international economic order.

Our negotiators return to the table in 2014 after their brief break and so will Congress. We look to our legislators on both sides of the Atlantic for their continued support and involvement. TTIP stands to be the biggest trade deal of all time with the biggest potential gains. We don’t want this to go down in history as the biggest trade deal of all time that never was. Decisive support from the U.S. Congress — as much as the support we are seeking from our own European Parliament — is an indispensable condition for success.

There are simply too many jobs on the line for this to fail. Moving TTIP successfully forward should be on the top of our 2014 to-do list.