The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is a broad ranging economic agreement being negotiated between the EU and the US. This agreement with the U.S. is very significant not only for the EU but also for Ireland given the scale of U.S. investment here and the deep historic ties we have with America. In 2012, U.S. firms had investments worth over $200 billion in our country and last year we exported over €26 billion in goods and services to U.S. buyers. These facts underline the importance of this Partnership to Ireland, and the tens of thousands that are employed around the country by U.S. firms and indigenous ones that sell into the U.S. market.
With a focus on an export led recovery to stimulate growth and new jobs, this and similar agreements are really important to Ireland because they give our exporters greater access to new markets. With the weight of the EU behind these and other trade agreements we can achieve far greater benefits for our exporters than would be possible otherwise. This is the largest and most comprehensive economic agreement ever contemplated by the EU with another country. I am pleased that the mandate for the first Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership was adopted by the EU Council during the Irish Presidency.
Competence for undertaking trade and investment negotiations flows from the many referenda, including most recently that on the Lisbon Treaty. Accordingly, competence for negotiating the TTIP rests with the EU Commission under the EU's common commercial policy. These negotiations take place on the basis of specific mandates from the EU Council of Ministers to the EU Commission.