The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a way for the United States and the European Union to shape globalization, said Anthony Luzzatto Gardner, the ambassador of the United States to the European Union, in an interview granted to AGERPRES.
“TTIP would be a way for us to shape the process of globalization by setting high standards that would be applied across the world. If we don’t seize the opportunity in this agreement to shape world trade, others will do it, in a very different way, and probably by setting standards at a much lower level”, said Gardner.
In his opinion, the partnership between the United States of America and the European Union “is critical in dealing with nearly every imaginable global crisis today”, and the TTIP, although obviously related to trade, is also a “tool” for job creation in Europe and the United States, and will also strengthen trans-Atlantic relations.
The diplomat also spoke of the issue of genetically-modified organisms in Europe, of the influence of the Volkswagen scandal on the negotiations, of the demonstrations in Brussels against the TTIP, the negotiations between the sides involved, the influences that the agreement may have on economies, as well as the losses and gains that could occur as a result of the agreement.
AGERPRES: Why is the USA so interested in the TTIP partnership?
Anthony Luzzatto Gardner: The US-EU partnership is critical in dealing with nearly every imaginable global crisis today. TTIP should be considered as one of the tools that we have to strengthen that partnership. It is obviously about trade which is important, we think it’s a tool to create jobs and to create growth in Europe and the United States but it’s not just about trade, this is also about geopolitics, it’s about strengthening the trans-Atlantic partnership, something that Romania knows and appreciates, it’s been a steadfast partner for many many years. This is also about shaping globalization and I mention that point because it’s a very important point that people often overlook.
Some people fear, although not in this country but in other countries, that TTIP will be an active vote to speed up globalization. It’s not true. Globalization is a fact of life, you can’t choose it. TTIP would be a way for us to shape the process of globalization by setting high standards that would be applied across the world. If we don’t seize the opportunity in this agreement to shape world trade, others will do it, in a very different way, and probably by setting standards at a much lower level.
AGERPRES: How will it help Romania?
Anthony Luzzatto Gardner: Well, later on today [e.n. — Friday], as I understand it, there will be a fact sheet distributed with some concrete examples of success stories in Romania. I read them with interest and what struck me about this fact sheet is that these companies come from many different sectors: pharmaceuticals, automotive supply chain, furniture, wines, spirits, and in other sectors. That’s the first. And the second thing that struck me is that these are not just big companies, in fact most of the companies on this sheet are small or medium-sized companies who have found a way to break into the US market and be successful, so it shows that even small Romanian companies can be successful; this agreement would actually make it easier for them to be successful, to grow faster. The third point is that even companies that are not selling to the US market today, or who wouldn’t actually be selling in the US market in the future might still benefit, because they are part of a supply chain where they are selling to companies, larger companies, here or in Europe, that are selling to the US market, so they would benefit indirectly.
So small and medium-sized enterprises will benefit, in particular, we think, from this agreement because of what we call trade liberalization, reducing customs barriers, trying to reduce the differences in standards that make it difficult for small companies to understand what the regulations are and to adapt their manufacturing processes to be able to sell to the US market. Those are really important points — it’s not just for big business.
AGERPRES: But from what I understand, European people are afraid of genetically-modified food. Isn’t this a problem?
Anthony Luzzatto Gardner: I’m glad you asked that question because this agreement has nothing to do with genetically-modified organisms [GMO]. We are well aware of the sensitivities that exist here and in many countries of the European Union about GMOs. There will be nothing in this agreement about GMOs, we don’t want to force European consumers to eat foods that they don’t want to eat. Consumers are absolutely free to do what they wish. Same thing for hormone-treated beef. We don’t want to force European consumers to eat hormone-treated beef. A totally separate issue that will be in this agreement is what we call sanitary and fitosanitary standards, and also ensuring that science is respected in the way that Europe and the United States make decisions. Our main concern is that in some of its decisions, the EU is not respecting the advice of its own scientific bodies, including the European Food Safety Agency — EFSA — which has made rulings that are ignored for political reasons. There, I think, we have a legitimate concern because a core principle of free trade is that non-scientific based political decisions should not be used as a way to block trade.
AGERPRES: The Volkswagen [VW] issues have started in the US. Doesn’t this put a block in signing this agreement?
Anthony Luzzatto Gardner: It doesn’t help, for sure. I mentioned one of the core things we are trying to do is cooperate on certain sectors, including automotive, for automotive safety standards, and we are also trying to agree on the way we make regulations, so the principles of regulation setting. With regard to automotive sector standards, it’s true that this VW scandal doesn’t help because we’ve spent time trying to argue that our standards of protection are basically high on both sides of the Atlantic and are equivalent. That argument has unfortunately been weakened by this scandal but I still think it’s still absolutely true to say that if you look at the world as a whole, the EU and the United States have the highest protections of any region and in most cases are very very similar, including in automotive. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy to set the same types of standards because the way we go about setting standards is different today. We have different ways of achieving the same results.
The second important point which the VW scandal revealed is that it’s not just important to have high standards, it’s important to apply those standards and here we saw, unfortunately, a failing. More…