Considerable preparatory work by the Irish EU Presidency and intensive discussions at the EU Trade Council on 14 June – under the chairmanship of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation - led to agreement on a mandate for the European Commission to formally launch negotiations on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This ranks amongst our most important Presidency achievements. The first round of negotiations took place in Washington in the week beginning 8 July 2013 and represented a positive initial exchange of views and a useful clarification of respective positions. Intensive contacts in different areas have continued during the summer, paving the way for substantial discussions at the second round, to be held in Brussels next week.
The EU and the US, two of the world’s largest trading blocs, already have very strong trading and investment ties. The conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement with the US would have a significant and positive impact on trade, resulting in new markets for Irish and for other European exporters and bringing positive effects on job creation and competitiveness. A comprehensive deal on areas such as common regulatory standards and investment rules holds massive potential for economic growth and jobs which it is estimated could over time boost EU GDP by 0.5% per annum and help create approximately 400,000 jobs in the EU.
While the lead Department for the coordination of Ireland’s interests in EU trade policy is the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the negotiations are being followed by all relevant Government departments including my own Department which has lead responsibility for bilateral relations with the United States and for trade promotion. The United States remains one of our most important trading and investment partners and as such the proposed Agreement has the potential to impact very favourably on Ireland’s prosperity, on growth and on jobs, all priorities for the Government.