State of the Union Address Tonight

January 28, 2014 marks an important date in the TTIP negotiations, as President Obama is expected to give at least a passing reference to his ambitious trade agenda–and the need for Congress to grant him Trade Promotion Authority–in his annual State of the Union Address tonight. It would be a disappointment if the President neglects to mention the landmark trade deals his administration is currently negotiating across the Pacific and Atlantic. Without a solid push from the Oval Office, Congress is unlikely to take up the mantle. Safe to say, trade policy analysts and other interested parties will be watching closely.

On a related note, my team at the Atlantic Council is also heading to Capitol Hill this evening, although a bit earlier. From 3:00-6:00 p.m. we will be co-hosting an event with Thomson Reuters and TheCityUK looking at transatlantic financial regulatory policy and ways it has diverged in response to the Financial Crisis. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and EU Ambassador to the US João Vale de Almeida will give keynote remarks.

I encourage those of you in Washington to attend, and others to join via webcast. For more information, please see our event page here. A webcast will be available courtesy of Reuters.

Speeches & Official Announcements

EU-US Trade Talks: EU and US Announce 4th Round of TTIP Negotiations in March; Stocktaking Meeting in Washington DC to Precede Next Set of Talks
EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman will meet in Washington February 17 and 18 to evaluate the progress and process of TTIP negotiations. This will help prepare negotiating teams for the 4th round of TTIP negotiations, which will take place in Brussels from March 10 to March 14. [Europa]

Expert Group to Advise European Commission on EU-US Trade Talks
The European Commission announced the creation of a consultative advisory group of fourteen experts who will guide EU negotiators as TTIP moves forward. With representation from the labor community, environment and public health interests, consumer advocacy groups, business, manufacturing, agriculture, and service sector experts, the advisory group will advise the Commission on EU-US trade and investment issues, while reinforcing the need to retain high regulatory standards. [Europa]

EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: Cooperation on Financial Services Regulation
Yesterday, the European Commission published its final position paper on financial services in TTIP, calling on the two sides to address regulatory barriers related to the financial services sector. The divergences between the EU and US financial markets pose obstacles to trade and investment. The EU believes that establishing a transparent rule-based system, using TTIP as a means for a consistent regulatory dialogue, will strengthen financial stability on both sides of the Atlantic. [Europa(PDF)]

US Treasury Secretary Lew Expects Good Year of Growth for US Economy
US Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew predicts 3 percent growth in the US economy for 2014, up from the 2 percent it experienced in 2013. Secretary Lew also encourage Congress to extend unemployment benefits and strengthen cross-border solutions to resolve insolvent financial institutions. [World Economic Forum]

US Secretary of State Kerry Emphasized Forceful Diplomacy
At Davos, US Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the United States’ use of “forceful diplomacy” when engaging in foreign affairs such as the Iranian, Syrian, and Israeli-Palestinian Conflicts. He also underlined the work that the US is pursuing to create closer global economic links through TTIP and the TPP. [World Economic Forum]


Five Things to Watch in Barack Obama’s State of the Union Speech
Trade deals are near the top of the US government’s to-do list, and President Obama’s State of the Union address may signal the future of TTIP and TPP. If Obama does not explicitly call for “fast track” trade promotion authority, Congress may struggle to gain the necessary support to pass the proposed TPA legislation, and therefore fail to send the right signals to our negotiating partners. [Financial Times]

Brussels Wants Finance Rules Back in US Trade Pact
While the EU has pushed hard for the inclusion of financial regulation in the TTIP agreement, the US Treasury remains hesitant to include financial regulatory policy in the negotiations. Recently, however, Brussels has begun to dig in its heels on the issue. [Financial Times]

Obama Speech Seen as Key to Unblocking Trade Agenda
Supporters of the trade promotion authority hope that Obama will publically endorse the proposed bill at today’s State of the Union Address. Congress and trade negotiators need Obama to keep the pressure on skeptics in his own party in order for transatlantic and trans-Pacific momentum to continue. [Financial Times]

In Davos, Nations Vow to Extend Global Trade Deal
Trade ministers agreed to build on the “positive momentum” of the WTO Bali Summit in meetings at Davos this past weekend. To further eliminate barriers, they plan to address the remaining Doha topics including agriculture, market access, and services. [Miami Herald]

Massachusetts Firms Closely Watch Trade Negotiations
Small and medium-sized enterprises in Massachusetts envision their potential to grow and expand with TTIP and the TPP in place. With costly and timely paperwork, regulations, and inspections, many small global firms refrain from exporting. The elimination of these hurdles therefore would encourage trade and enhance the overall economy, not only in Massachusetts, but across the United States. [The Boston Globe]

Recent Analysis

A New Path on Trade Deals
The Los Angeles Times’ Editorial Board writes that TTIP and the TPP are too large for Congress to negotiate without Trade Promotion Authority. Even the critics of these agreements should support this “fast track” authority to seize the opportunity to establish prerequisites for transparency, access, and the negotiation process of the deals. Moreover, trade policy remains one of the very few truly “bipartisan” approaches left to enhance American competitiveness and create jobs in the US. [LA Times]

Manufacturers to DC: Make USA Can-Do Nation Again
Obama’s previous two State of the Union addresses have heavily emphasized the opportunity for economic growth in the American manufacturing sector. To maximize American advanced manufacturing’s growth potential, policymakers should modernize infrastructure, lower the corporate tax rate, enhance training programs, and boost economic exports. Congress should pass Trade Promotion Authority and pass proposed free trade agreements to encourage trade and create manufacturing jobs. [Real Clear Politics]

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