The Transatlantic trade relationship - achieving its full potential

10 February 2011

Changes made by the Lisbon Treaty are making the EU a stronger partner for the United States and a more influential actor in world affairs, said Miriam E. Sapiro, Deputy US Trade Representative, at an EPC Breakfast Briefing organised in cooperation with the United States Mission to the EU.

She began by underlining the ‘fundamental strength’ of the relationship, stating that:

  • transatlantic trade flows exceed $3.5 billion each day;
  • transatlantic investment is estimated to support more than 7 million jobs in the US and the EU;
  • the value of US exports to the EU is two and a half times the value of its exports to China;
  • the stock of US direct investment in Brazil, Russia, India, and China combined was equivalent to just over 8% of the total US investment in the EU in 2009;
  • Europe today represents nearly half of the total stock of US foreign direct investment.

She said that there were several other key indicators of the  strength of the economic relationship, including effective cooperation on most important trade and economic issues.

Despite sometimes ‘flagging confidence’ in the relevance of the relationship, she said that nothing should undermine its importance. To ‘tap the full potential’ of the transatlantic economic partnership, joint leadership will be essential to bring the Doha Round to a successful conclusion, and  there could be significant gains in exports and employment if some of the remaining obstacles to bilateral trade were removed.

Building a more deeply integrated transatlantic economy would better equip both economies to thrive in the ‘new competitive landscape’, which would require dealing with non-tariff barriers (NTBs). This is a ‘thorny issue’, rooted in differences in the way the economies are regulated –and successful cooperation requires input from private sector stakeholders and economic policy officials, and coordination between both legislatures.

Enhanced and sustained cooperation and collaboration among policymakers and regulators around an ambitious regulatory cooperation agenda is more important than ever before. This goal received an ‘important boost’ at the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) December 2010, with the launch of several regulatory cooperation initiatives.

The meeting also launched a new partnership to identify areas where technological innovation could generate economic and quality-of-life benefits,and mobilise combined resources. This should also spur US-EU leadership in establishing global approaches to innovation. One of the initial areas of focus for the Innovation Partnership will be industrial raw materials, and the partnership would also seek agreement on trade-related principles for information and communication technology services.