Brussels, 14 December 2010 - EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht will travel to Canada and the United States from 14 – 17 December 2010. In Canada, he will meet his counterpart Peter Van Loan to discuss progress on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Commissioner De Gucht will then travel on to the United States where, on 17 December, he will co-chair the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC), together with US Deputy National Security Advisor Michael Froman. The TEC will bring together a number of European Commissioners and US Government representatives to strengthen EU-US economic strategic and regulatory cooperation. Commissioner De Gucht will also meet his US counterpart, Trade Representative Ron Kirk, to discuss progress in international trade talks in the context of the Doha Development Agenda.
"I am looking forward to my visit to Canada and the United States to help advance transatlantic economic cooperation", said Commissioner De Gucht. "Our ultimate objective is to strengthen our economies for the competitive challenges of the future and both the Transatlantic Economic Council and the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement will help us with this. The EU-US Summit in Lisbon in November has assigned the important task to the Transatlantic Economic Council to boost growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. We will make a significant step in that direction at this meeting. And I hope we can conclude the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement already in 2011."
The EU will be represented by Vice-President Neelie Kroes, Commissioner responsible for European Digital Agenda, Vice-President Antonio Tajani, Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship, as well as by Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, and Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Algirdas Šemeta. The TEC participants will focus their work on the promotion of innovation, knowledge and green jobs, on the strengthening of the transatlantic market place and on enhancing regulatory cooperation to boost trade and investment. Among the specific issues to be discussed are innovation, e-health, secure trade, chemicals and e-mobility.
The Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC)
The TEC was set up in 2007 to guide and stimulate transatlantic economic convergence. The new co-chairs of the TEC, Commissioner De Gucht, and US Deputy National Security Adviser for international economic affairs, Michael Froman, decided in early 2010 to reposition the work of the TEC. It was agreed to focus the regulatory work of the TEC on economically relevant issues of mutual interest, to identify a number of issues where EU-US cooperation could produce achievable results in a reasonable time horizon and to engage in a strategic discussion on selected global economic issues. The rationale of the TEC is clear: to ensure transatlantic convergence by preventing non-tariff barriers to trade and by creating new opportunities benefitting business and consumers, thus generating growth and jobs.
The importance of dismantling non-tariff barriers can be illustrated by recent Commission studies, which estimate the huge cost of incoherent regulation to both economies at 160 billion Euros per year. If half of the already existing non-tariff measures and regulatory differences were removed, it is estimated that exports by the EU and US would grow by 2.1% and 6.1 %, respectively. This shows the importance of avoiding regulatory differences in the first place.
The TEC is currently the only EU-US high level forum in which economic issues can be discussed in a coherent and coordinated manner. It brings together a wide range of ongoing economic cooperation activities and is a platform which can give political guidance and direction. At the same time, the TEC is a political forum where participants can explore joint approaches to strategic global economic questions.
EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
Negotiations on an EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement were launched at the EU-Canada Summit of 6th May 2009. Until now, significant progress has been made in most areas towards reaching a common text. Both negotiating partners continue to aim at a very advanced agreement, exceeding in its level of ambition any trade and economic agreement negotiated either by the EU or by Canada to date.
The next round is scheduled in Brussels from 17 to 21 January 2011. The aim is to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2011. The EU and Canada stand to gain significantly from the CETA. Such an agreement could provide up to twenty billion euros per year in additional benefits to the two economies, mostly by the liberalisation of trade in services, but also by the removal of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.