What We’re Reading: January 30

TTIP Action aggregates the latest news and best analysis from across the United States and European Union on the ongoing negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Speeches & Official Announcements

President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union Address
During his remarks before a joint session of Congress last Tuesday evening, President Obama called for Congressional action on trade promotion authority and emphasized the positive impact of international trade on jobs and growth for American small businesses. The full text is available here.

US House Subcommittee on Small Business Examines Efforts to Develop New Trade Markets
On Tuesday, Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) presided over a hearing of the House Committee on Small Business’ Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade to analyze the impact of TTIP, TPP, and other multilateral trade negotiations on American small businesses who export or wish to expand their exports. [Small Business Committee]


Obama Delivers Careful Message on Trade
In Obama’s State of the Union Address he encouraged Congressional action on international trade, calling on members to “work together on tools like bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority.” The cautious language was designed to keep skeptical Democrats on board with the trade agenda, but still suggests that changes will be made before the TPA bill moves forward. [Financial Times]

Merkel: Calling off EU-US Trade Talks ‘Not Very Helpful’
In advance of a visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry, German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced questions in the Bundestag over the transatlantic relationship and the implications of the NSA scandal which has created major waves in Germany. Though she emphasized the two sides are still far apart in terms of their data privacy rules and regulations, Merkel insisted that TTIP talks should continue uninterrupted and the two issues should remain separate. [Euractiv]

Harry Reid Rejects President Obama’s Trade Push
President Obama’s trade agenda has hit a major roadblock in the form of the opposition of the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV). Given that the Majority Leader controls which legislation makes it to the Senate floor for debate, Senator Reid’s opposition to the bipartisan trade promotion authority bill introduced earlier this month by Senator Max Baucus means the White House has a lot of convincing to do to move its trade priorities forward. [Politico]

Reid Threatens Obama’s Trade Agenda
Although Senator Harry Reid has indicated his opposition to the fast-track trade authority bill as currently written, European officials and business leaders maintain hope that President Obama will push harder to rally his own party to eventually consider and pass TPA. Without the passage of a trade negotiating mechanism, it will be incredibly challenging for TTIP and TPP negotiations to move forward as the US’ partners will justifiably want assurances that Congress will not endlessly amend the ultimate agreements. [Financial Times]

Transatlantic Trade Talks to be More Transparent
As TTIP talks move into a more serious stage in 2014–with both sides presenting policy proposals and political leaders offering their insights on where to move forward next–the European Commission is committed to ensuring an open public dialogue. The Commission has followed up its words with actions by creating an “Advisory Group” of outside experts from a range of industries, announcing a period of public consultations on investor-state dispute settlement issues, and publicly releasing its final position paper on including financial services in TTIP. [European Voice]

Recent Analysis

Analysis: Obama’s Nod to Trade Leaves Tough Work Ahead in Congress
With Senator Baucus’ recent appointment as US Ambassador to China, Congress is likely to face a complicated path to approving his proposed trade promotion bill. Additional complications include discussions of an alternative TPA bill that will include a robust Trade Adjustment Assistance program to aid workers displaced by trade. [Reuters]

Washington Politics Throw Big Year for Trade Off Course
Internal divisions within the Democratic party over the merits of international trade are causing many problems for President Obama and his administration as they seek the authority needed to conclude ambitious trade deals across the Pacific and Atlantic. While Senator Reid is focused on retaining the Democratic majority in Congress’ upper chamber, the President is looking for deficit-neutral ways to enhance American competitiveness and create jobs. The future of the trade agenda in 2014 depends on their ability to find a compromise that works for everyone. [Financial Times]

In Speech, Obama Requests New Trade Powers
Due to the sensitivities of election year politics, President Obama had to tread cautiously on trade during his State of the Union address on Tuesday. He has pushed for increased trade and integration in his past four annual addresses, and repeated those calls–carefully–on Tuesday. [Wall Street Journal]

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