Amb. Delattre Speaks on Transatlantic Trade
1. Welcoming Remarks
It is my pleasure to welcome you tonight to this event co-organized with the French-American Chamber of Commerce and the European Union Delegation to the United States. This special event is focused on one of our most exciting and challenging transatlantic topics: the Transatlantic Partnership for Trade and Investment (T-TIP).
I would like to express my gratitude to our distinguished panelists, dear Joao Valle de Almeida, EU Ambassador to the United States, who needs no introduction; Amy Ericson, President of Alstom USA, a leading French transportation, power-generation and smart-grid company with activities worldwide; and our moderator, Michael Smart, Vice-President of Rock Creek Advisors, all of whom have agreed to share their views on the ongoing T-TIP talks.
2. The Importance of T-TIP
Before giving the floor to the panelists, I would like to remind you of how important T-TIP is to us.
Despite economic turbulence in recent years, the transatlantic economy is the world’s largest and wealthiest market. No other commercial artery in the world can compare with the density and integration of our two economies. Every day, the commercial exchange of goods and services across the Atlantic averages almost €2 billion.
These trade flows are complemented and supported by a very dynamic investment climate and activity. The US and Europe are each other’s primary source and destination for foreign direct investment. Affiliate sales are the primary means by which European firms deliver goods and services to US consumers. Obviously, commercial ties are also important drivers for job creation on both sides of the ocean.
The transatlantic economy generates close to $5 trillion in total commercial sales each year, and most importantly, employs up to 15 million workers in “onshored” jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.
France is uniquely and strategically positioned as a gateway to the EU, the world’s single largest market. Our bilateral relationship is particularly strong in terms of job creation: France currently supports more than 550,000 jobs in the United States, and among foreign multinationals, U.S. companies represent the largest source of employment in France (with roughly 500,000 jobs supported in France).
If we signed an audacious transatlantic free-trade agreement in the coming months, it could open a window of economic opportunities and trigger a historic change in the way international trade is done.
As President Hollande clearly reaffirmed to President Obama during his state visit to the United States last month, France staunchly supports T-TIP with the aim of deepening the economic partnership between the US and the EU. Both for the direct benefits it will bring to us (growth, investments, and jobs, through a more integrated market) and for the impact a positive partnership can have globally, including in terms of setting new rules for international trade.
The figures might not always sound dramatic but we expect bilateral trade to grow by 50% over 10 years, and a GDP increase of around 0.3 %. That means a lot of money and an awful lot of jobs, considering our respective sizes.
3. Not an easy path forward
While not out of reach, striking such a comprehensive deal will be challenging.
Both parties will have to engage in a fair conversation and give ground at some point in order for the common interest to prevail.
Because T-TIP will cover almost all aspects of our trade and investment relationship, and because our trade ties are already so close, regulatory convergence and the lifting of non-tariff measures will be central to the negotiations and require a bold approach. No one has ever done what we are trying to achieve, as two partners with the world’s most sophisticated regulatory systems.
In well-functioning democracies as ours, the transparency of our rule-making process is inherent to our values and is a goal that we always pursue; but I would like to emphasize that transparency as such is not sufficient to reach convergence on the substance, which is our main objective. We must bring meaningful and tangible results to our business communities in this regard.
Of course, this negotiation must take place in the spirit of reciprocity and mutual benefit, and in respect of our differences and of our traditions. Between close friends, we can talk frankly and constructively, therefore I am confident we can find common ground and pragmatic solutions to these areas of interest.
Our negotiators concentrate on technicalities and the challenges attached to the complexity of the discussions; that is their job. But we have to be mindful of public opinion. We have to listen to the sometimes growing concerns and fears among American and European citizens; that is why we should do more on both sides of the Atlantic to explain what is at stake in those talks and how everybody (large and small companies, independent workers and all our citizens) could benefit from an ambitious agreement. I believe that our outreach effort should also go beyond the beltway and target states, counties, municipalities and local communities all over the United States, to raise awareness of the benefits of this agreement. My government is engaged in large-scale consultations in France in this regard.
Such an outreach effort is highly necessary also because 2014 is an election year both in the US and in the EU. While American voters will go to the polls for the November midterm elections, the EU will have to deal with the impact of European Parliament elections in May and the subsequent renewal of the European Commission. This tight electoral calendar must be an additional incentive for us to move forward and to keep up the pace of the negotiations in the months ahead.
4. A relationship rooted in shared values and common beliefs.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the ambition of these negotiations is unprecedented. The US-EU security alliance has never been stronger and as Susan Rice recently said , the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership aims at bringing our economic cooperation up to the same level as our security alliance.
Let us never forget that the transatlantic partnership, and the French-American friendship in particular, is based upon our common interests but is also deeply rooted in our shared values. That is what makes our relationship truly unique.
And these values remain our best guide on the road to success and growth.