(Originally posted by Blasting News France)
New York will be hosting the 9th round of negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) / Transatlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA) agreement on April 20-24. European Trade Commissioner, Cecila Malmström from Sweden is overseeing the agreement negotiations, as successor to Belgium's Karel De Gucht. Ms Malmström gave an interview a few days ahead of the New York meeting.
Some in the European Parliament have criticized the transatlantic partnership and its potential benefits. Will there be a new assessment which takes the potential economic and social impacts of the agreement into account?
Cecila Malmström: Before negotiations even began, we organized for a study to be made by the Centre for Economic Policy Research. All the studies, except the one done by the CEPR, expect that this treaty will bring growth. Several member states, including Portugal, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Ireland, are also currently carrying out their studies. The Commission is also preparing a study on the development impact, and when the final draft of the agreement is set in stone, further assessments will be made.
The CEPR study talks about benefits for both parties, such as 119 billion euros for Europe and 95 billion for the US. This also includes the European Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth figure of 0.5% and 1% in ten years after the agreement is put into place...
Cecila Malmström: It's very rare that you will hear me mention any specific figures, but the studies on economic impact say that there will be growth and employment. We will also soon see the benefits of the partnership between Europe and South Korea. We can draw some general conclusions from this, even though the situation is different.
With regards to the Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), it seems that French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade Matthias Fekl and Germany's Minister of Economics, Sigmar Gabriel, amongst others, are looking to bring in an independent board for its application…
Cecila Malmström: I think it is a good idea, but it won't happen tomorrow. This is more viable as a long-term goal. For ISDS, it must be a short-term consideration, until the permanent board is put into place. No one seems to be against it, but it is obvious that work has to be done in this respect.
With TTIP/ TAFTA, Europe and the United States want to remain the world's most important markets. However, the US has still been actively negotiating with 11 countries about the Trans-Pacific agreement since 2008. Will Europe be able to meet its ambition by imposing global standards?
Cecila Malmström: If the transatlantic agreement negotiations are halted, we will look to impose the standards elsewhere in the years to come. But with the trans-pacific agreement, there is no such ambition to impose these restrictions.
The final draft of the TTIP / TAFTA agreement could end up anywhere between 1,550 to 2,000 pages. Will European and national MPs have the time to study and evaluate the potential impact?
Cecila Malmström: The European parliament has asked for 8 or 9 months to study this treaty. We will send them the document before ratification and the juridical translation. As the relevant sections are drafted, we will gradually share them with the parties involved. At the moment, there is no final draft, but we won't be doing one draft, where we say "That's it!"
So, the final draft can be changed, if there is something that either the European Parliament or any of the member states want to amend?
Cecila Malmström: It is the Council that will have the ability to amend the agreement.
There are several cities that have been symbolically excluded from the area of the transatlantic partnership, such as Tournai and Liège in Belgium…
Cecila Malmström: We cannot exclude anyone from this agreement, but I hear the criticism on this. However, there are still no agreed policy terms as of yet. These cities have decided to opt themselves out of a concept that does not yet exist. The politicians who have made this choice, should really wait until they have a chance to read the agreement before deciding. If it is approved, the agreement works on all levels of government, as well as in all Belgian municipalities.
The council have tried be a lot more transparent, especially when it comes to declassifying the agreement mandate that was made on October 9th, 2014. Documents have been published over the past few months, which include Europe's position on the project. But the most important parts, which are set in stone and which could be implemented, have been kept secret until now. Will those be published?
Cecila Malmström: We will, of course, publish these documents, as long as they are completed and as long as the US is in agreement on this. Everything can change, as nothing has been finalized. We are still negotiating the technicalities.
Will the negotiations of the agreement be completed this year?
Cecila Malmström: They will not be completed this year, but with a lot of hard work over the coming months, the general structure of the final draft will be in place. We can hopefully conclude the negotiations in the spring of 2016, but this will depend on the electoral context in the US.
The Buy American Act, which is a US federal law, requires companies to purchase US products. This requirement spreads to European companies with bases in the US. Will this be kept?
Cecila Malmström: The United States will not withdraw this, but we will see whether they can make any concessions to it. #Finance