Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership


By Giuseppe Scognamiglio

The United States and the European Union share a large, dynamic, and mutually beneficial trade and economic relationship. The two sides account for 50% of world GDP, 25% of worldwide exports, 31% of worldwide imports, 57% of foreign investments stocks. The economic relationship with the EU is the largest in the world, generating goods and services trade flows of about €1,5 billion a day. In 2013 the total trade reached € 484 billions (EU imports: €195 billions; EU exports €288 billions). Many observers nevertheless assert that the relationship has not reached its full potential due to a range of regulatory, technical, and other barriers. US and EU negotiators have sought to address some of these issues through various forums over the years but concerns about the slow economic growth, since the start of the financial crises in 2008, have prompted calls by public and private stakeholders for a renewed, intensive focus on eliminating and reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers to US-EU trade and investment. No single EU country would be able to negotiate a deal with the US on the same terms as the EU as a bloc can.

The elimination/reduction of (already low) tariffs and (but there is still no agreement on this) non tariff barriers. It could add as much as $120 billion to the european economy by driving Foreign Direct Investment and creating new market opportunities for SMEs and Mid-Market firms on both sides of the Atlantic.

Negotiations cover: 1) market access, comprising elimination of tariffs for goods and new access to services and public procurement; 2) regulatory convergence and NTBs (non tariff barriers); and 3) rules for global trade. March 2014 talks reportedly saw progress on all three but obstacles to a deal are still present.

Tariffs are considered the easiest issue to tackle, as they are low (3-4%), although higher in some sensitive sectors (dairy products, sugar, meat,

tobacco, textiles).

Services, by addressing long-standing barriers, while recognising the sensitive nature of some sectors. Disagreement on financial services is visible: the EU aims to include financial regulatory cooperation in TTIP, besides market access, but the US is concerned this might affect restrictions in the Dodd-Frank law and prefers separate discussions.

Regulatory NTBs to trade (e.g. divergent standards, sanitary requirements) are seen as the core of the deal, yielding most benefits, but among the most difficult issues to address. The negotiators are discussing how to ensure compatibility of existing and future regulations, so as to reduce unnecessary costs and red-tape, while "achieving the levels of health, safety, and environmental protection each side deems appropriate." In particular, five aspects are highlighted: sanitary and phytosanitary; technical barriers to trade (technical regulations, conformity assessment and standards); specific sectors of goods and services; cross-cutting discpilines and transparency; and a framework for future regulatory cooperation. However, observers already conclude there is deadlock on regulatory issues. The US stresses the horizontal and transparency issues, while the EU prioritises the sector-specific pillar.

In September 2013, the European Commission published a paper explaining the overall economic impacts that would emerge from TTIP. An ambitious TTIP deal would increase the size of the EU economy around €120 billion (or 0.5% of GDP) and the US by €95 billion (or 0.4% of GDP).

According to the study, EU exports would increase in almost all sectors as a result of TTIP, but the boost in total EU exports outside the Single Market would be particularly significant in metal products (+12%), processed foods (+9%), chemicals (+9%), other manufacturing good (+6%), other transport equipment (+ 6%), and especially motor vehicles (+41%).

Consumers will also benefit from cheaper products. The study estimates that in total, the average European household will see its disposable income increase by around €500 per year, as a result of the combined effect of wage increases and price reductions.

The European Commission published also a paper illustrating the benefits that would emerge for SMEs through TTIP. This paper explains that SMEs are disproportionately affected by trade barriers: since they have fewer human and financial resources to overcome those than larger firms, the costs for SMEs to export or invest outside the EU often outweigh the gains.


1. Larger market implies higher competition (higher standards).

2. To the extent that trade is intra industry, there is an important dynamic effect from an increase in labour productivity.

Long term consequences on Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs):

3. attraction of new flows, also from countries outside agreement.

4. Increase in home exports implies an increase in outsourcing (offshoring); Home firms can outsource low value added parts of Global Value Chains (GVCs); foreign firms increase their role as suppliers

5. Intracompany trade becomes more important.

In conclusion: the EU will continue to push for financial services to be part of the TTIP, but now it seems very difficult that the EU will succeed. However TTIP's gains are several and their impacts could go beyond the numbers (productivity, labour market, less regulatory arbitrage, enhanced transparency and others). Benefits will differ by country (States), sector, workers.

Latest update: On 18 July 2014, EU and US officials ended the sixth round of TTIP negotiations in Brussels. The following points were discussed:

- Classic market access issues: This encompasses the areas of tariffs, services and public procurement. For the EU, procurement is one of the most fundamental elements of these negotiations and both sides set as objective to substantially improve access to government procurement opportunities at all levels of government on the basis of national treatment.

- Regulatory agenda: This is considered to be the most economically significant part of TTIP. For those issues that cut across sectors, officials have continued to discuss how to ensure close regulatory cooperation between their respective regulators on different areas of regulations including standards and conformity assessment and on everything that has to do with sanitary and phytosanitary matters. Officials are discussing nine sectors, amongst which pharmaceuticals, cars, chemicals and engineering.

- Engaging with stakeholders: Chief negotiators engaged intensively with over 400 representatives of civil society, trade unions, public health and businesses. Presentations were made by representatives from SMEs such as the UK Federation of Small Businesses, Chamber of Commerce of Rhône-Alpes or the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry. These presentations illustrated how TTIP could bring concrete benefits to SMEs, not only through the specific SME chapter, but also how other chapters of TTIP could be of relevance.

On 18 September: Meeting of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership Advisory Group. The discussion focused on the sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards and the regulatory coherence between the two regions.

In 2013 Italy reported an export share destined to the US of only 7% of total Italian exports and a trade balance's surplus with US of more than 15 billion Euro (Italian exports: € 27 billion; Italian imports: € 11 billion). US represents the third market for Italy exports after Germany and France.

The sector suffering from the higher trade tariffs in US is the fashion industry: with 9% of goods value compared to an average of 2,7% for all goods exported. Non tariff barriers are even higher, with an average of 25% of goods value. In the NTBs, beside fashion system the other industries mainly hit are machinery and agrifood.

In the optimistic scenario of elimination of all tariff and non tariff barriers, three years after the trade liberalization there will be an increase of 0,5% of GDP and 1,6% of exports with an increase of employment of about 30.000 workers (+0,2%). In the case of a cautious scenario with the mere elimination of the tariff barriers the impact on the Italian economy is still positive but smaller, again three years after the trade liberalization: +0,2% GDP, +0,9% exports, employment +0,1%.

Giuseppe Scognamiglio Giuseppe Scognamiglio
Giuseppe Scognamiglio, nato a Napoli il 16 luglio 1963. Diplomatico, Manager, Giornalista, Professore. Direttore della rivista eastwest


By Giuseppe Scognamiglio

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