TTIP Action | January 22


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TTIP and the State of the Union Address

“21st century businesses, including small businesses, need to sell more American products overseas. Today, our businesses export more than ever, and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. But as we speak, China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region. That would put our workers and businesses at a disadvantage. Why would we let that happen? We should write those rules. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.

Look, I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities. More than half of manufacturing executives have said they’re actively looking at bringing jobs back from China. Let’s give them one more reason to get it done.” — Remarks by President Obama at the 2015 State of the Union Address

On Tuesday night, President Obama spoke passionately and eloquently in defense of his domestic and international agenda, and devoted significant attention to his priorities for trade. Calling on Congress to quickly consider and pass TPA as a means of ensuring that TTIP and TPP provide protections for American workers and the environment, Obama made his most personal plea yet to get these deals done. The next key step will be following through with individual members, many of whom are skeptical about trade–particularly in the Democratic party.

Republicans have responded favorably to the President’s comments on trade made during the State of the Union. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) explicitly mentioned her party’s intent to cooperate on passing an ambitious trade promotion authority bill during the official Republican response. And new chairmen in the House and Senate–Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)–have both signaled their willingness to move quickly.

As with the negotiations themselves, 2015 will be a pivotal year for the politics of trade and moving forward both across the Pacific and the Atlantic.

Speeches & Official Announcements

Remarks by President Obama as Prepared for Delivery State of the Union Address

We should write those rules [of the future of global trade]. We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, to conclude strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but fair.” – President Obama

President Obama urged both Democrats and Republicans to give him TPA in order to close new trade deals in the Asia-Pacific and Europe, with arguments couched in terms of setting global gold standards for the future of world trade. President Obama acknowledged that some past agreements had not “always lived up to the hype,” and tried to reassure critics of past free-trade pacts that the current ambitious trade agenda will create jobs and growth here at home. (White House)

Ryan Responds to President Obama’s State of the Union Address

I was glad to hear the President ask Congress to pass trade-promotion authority. We simply can’t get the best trade agreements for the American people without it. Now the President needs to follow through. He needs to convince his party to vote for TPA – and soon.” – Chairman Paul Ryan

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan welcomed the President’s support for TPA, emphasizing his willingness and desire to find common ground on trade across the aisle. Trade Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi also applauded the President’s bipartisanship with his support of trade agreements and TPA, stating his hope is that President Obama will make it a priority to follow through over the next few weeks. (Committee on Ways and Means)

European Parliament Press Release: Trade Committee Debate on New Recommendations for TTIP Talks

Parliament must use its influence on framing TTIP rules to ensure that they serve all EU citizens, not just a few economic players and must therefore insist that the talks are more democratic and more transparent.” – Trade Committee Chair Bernd Lange, MEP

Center-right MEPs insisted that the European Parliament’s demands should be drafted in more positive terms, focusing on “what we want” rather than on “drawing new red lines.” The need for investor protection that does not limit the rights to regulate and a binding sustainable development chapter was mentioned several times in the debate, and an emphasis was also placed on ensuring TTIP helps drive sustainable development.(European Parliament)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Strongly Endorses TTIP at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Merkel declared that the proposed agreement between the United States and the European Union offers “a unique opportunity” for the two sides to set global standards. The German Chancellor stressed the potential for increased economic growth as a result of an agreement. In addition, Merkel argued that a trade deal with the United States would safeguard, preserve, and extend the EU’s high consumer protection and environmental standards.

Please follow this link to watch Merkel’s speech: (World Economic Forum)


White House Targets Dems in Trade Blitz

President Obama is tasking every member of his Cabinet to round up votes from Democrats for TPA. Cabinet members have targeted about 80 House Democrats as potential votes in favor of the bill. It will be a difficult sell; many Democrats struggle to come to terms with selling the politics of free trade to their constituents. However, the White House maintains that the US will be sidelined from writing rules on trade that would protect labor groups and the environment if they don’t back TPA and the eventual agreements as negotiated by USTR. (The Hill)

Experts see a Republican Senate and Fast-Track Authority for Obama as Keys to New Trade Agreements

A recent poll by the Washington Post attempted to gather the thoughts of leading political scientists on President Obama’s trade agenda. Many agreed that the Republican majority in both houses of Congress would make the passage of TTIP more likely, and nearly all agreed that giving the president trade promotion authority would make passing trade agreements in general more likely. Another Good Judgment Project survey showed that political scientists remain considerably more optimistic about a trade agreement than the wider pool surveyed for respondents from the GJP. (Washington Post)

Hatch Says Trade Promotion Authority A Necessity

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch stated that giving President Obama expanded trade powers is essential to pushing through a broad global agenda. Countering arguments that TPA cedes too much authority to the White House, Hatch said he planned to “move carefully but quickly to introduce and mark up” a TPA bill in the coming weeks. (The Hill)

Microsoft Calls For Data Sharing Agreement Between US and EU

Microsoft is calling for an accord between the EU and the US to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to access and share citizens’ data internationally when a warrant has been issued. The suggestion seeks to resolve the problem of cloud computing, whereby customer data are often stored in a different country from which the consumer lives, making it unclear which government has jurisdiction. However, this move is likely to be met with caution from legislatures on both sides of the Atlantic. Some MEPs have instead posited that a first step would be to establish common guidelines of data protection between the EU and the US. (Financial Times)

The German Government Wants to Offer Russia a Free Trade Deal

German Chancellor Merkel and her Minster for Economic Affairs and Energy, Sigmar Gabriel, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos that they would consider a free trade deal between the European Union (EU) and Russia, if the conflict in Ukraine is resolved in a peaceful manner. Moreover, the Minister also defended the proposed TTIP agreement between the EU and US. He declared that the TTIP negotiations might be “Europe’s last chance to take part in shaping the standards of world trade.” (Sueddeutsche) – Original Article in German

Recent Analysis

The Window Is Closing on a Trans-Atlantic Trade Deal

Chris Cummings argues in the Wall Street Journal that the window of opportunity to finalize TTIP could be closing fast. British Prime Minister David Cameron faces a general election this year, and there are less than two years left in Barack Obama’s presidency. This translates into one year for completing TTIP negotiations and another to prepare the full text for signing. (The Wall Street Journal)

The TTIP Agreement: A Discussion with Mr. Simone Crolla, Managing Director of AmCham Italy

Mr. Crolla reiterated how important it was for the EU to sign an ambitious TTIP agreement, noting the unique opportunity it presented to strengthen economic and political relations that existed between the EU and the US. Moreover, TTIP represents an important chance for Italy and Europe to enhance job creation and increase citizens’ income. (One Europe)

A Letter to President Obama from a Coalition of Small Businesses

A group of technology-enabled small businesses who sell their goods and services via eBay presented their support for the White House’s ambitious trade agenda this year in a letter sent to President Obama. These companies face several administrative and legal barriers which prevent them from realizing their full potential for international business. These business leaders are calling for the President to work with Congress to do away with outdated trade policies around the world which limit their reach. (eBay Main Street)

How Trade and Training Can Boost Global Recovery

It is important that countries look outwards, and not inwards, when pursuing productivity and economic growth. According to 2013 research by the Centre for Economic Policy, innovation is higher in more open economies and countries grow fastest when they trade with and learn from one another. With several large trade deals on the global agenda, there is a real opportunity to boost growth and professional productivity worldwide. (Huffington Post)

“Free Trade for Everybody”

A new study, sponsored by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, states that TTIP will create more positive than negative effects for developing countries. The study contends that TTIP would increase consumers’ disposable income in the US and EU. In turn, consumer spending on goods from developing countries is expected to rise, leading to job creation and export increases even in countries not directly involved in the negotiations.(Die Zeit) – Original Article in German

Upcoming Events

TTIP Town Hall: The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – Opportunities for Alabama – January 22 in Mobile, AL; hosted by the Bertelsmann Foundation – More Information

Committee Hearing: Jobs and a Healthy Economy – January 22 in Washington, DC; hosted by the United States Senate Committee on Finance – More Information

Convergence and Divergence in Mega-Rational Trade and Investment Agreements – January 26 in Washington, DC; hosted by the Center for Transatlantic Relations – More Information

Unity in Challenging Times: Building on Transatlantic Resolve with Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland – January 27 in Washington DC; hosted by the Brookings Institute – More Information

House Ways and Means Committee Hearing – US Trade Policy Agenda with Ambassador Froman – January 27 in Washington DC – More information

Senate Finance Committee Hearing – President Obama’s 2015 Trade Policy Agenda with Ambassador Froman – January 27 in Washington DC – More information

EU-US: From Disappointment to Hope with Gianni Pittella – January 30 in Washington DC; hosted by the Center for Transatlantic Relations – More Information

Towards a Transatlantic Strategy for Europe’s East – January 30 in Washington DC; hosted by the Atlantic Council – More Information

Stakeholders’ Event of the 8th Round TTIP Negotiations – February 4 in Brussels; hosted by the European Commission – More Information

The 2nd Annual EU-US Trade Conference: TTIP Where Now for the EU-US Trade Deal? with Commissioner Malmström – February 5 in Brussels; hosted by Forum Europe – More Information

Chairman Paul Ryan’s First Public Address on Trade – February 5 in Washington DC; hosted by the Washington International Trade Association – More Information

Conference and Debate on TTIP – February 5 in Grenoble, France; hosted by Mouvement Européens, France – More Information

Beyond Tariffs: Trade Relations and the Transatlantic Relationship in the 21st Century– February 6 in Washington, DC; hosted by Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service – More Information

2015 Congressional Trade Agenda – February 13 in Washington, DC; hosted by the Washington International Trade Association – More Information

February 2-6, 2015 – Eighth Round of TTIP Negotiations in Brussels