On December 5, a discussion on Transatlantic partnership agreements between the EU and Canada (CETA) and the EU and the U.S. (TTIP) took place at the European Parliament Information Office in Latvia. Experts discussed the strategic impact of Transatlantic partnership agreements.
MEP Artis Pabriks stressed that both agreements would enhance and strengthen the existing business ties between Europe and North America and will contribute to a greater geopolitical security.
Joining the debate were the following experts:
- Lolita Čigāne, Chairperson of European Affairs Committee, Parliament of Latvia;
- Valters Kronbergs, Chairman, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Latvia;
- Mārtiņš Kreitus, Deputy Head of the Mission, Counselor (EU issues and Economy), Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- Andris Kuznieks, Deputy Head, Representation of the European Commission in Latvia;
- Artis Pabriks, Chief Rapporteur on CETA, Member of the International Trade committee, Member of the Group of European People's Party at the EU Parliament;
- Mārtiņš Perts, Advisor of Foreign Affairs, the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry;
- Līga Smildziņa-Bērtulsone, Board Member and Executive Director, AmCham Latvia.
Līga Smildziņa-Bērtulsone believes that both agreements will create significant benefits and opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic. She said that given the size of the existing EU-U.S, trade volume, even small improvements will bring large gains, especially for small and medium sized enterprises (SME). Since many SMEs tend to work in the high tariff sectors, as a result of more favorable conditions for export and harmonized standards, they will be able to increase production and create jobs. For example, currently a German shoe manufacturer faces 37% tariff on its export production to the U.S.
Martins Kreitus mentioned that by the overall increase of European exports to the U.S. and Canada, Latvian entrepreneurs would gain as they sell intermediate goods and raw materials to other strong European manufacturers who trade with the U.S.
Martins Perts assumed that more joint ventures could be established.
Valters Kronbergs quoted a recent survey data on CETA's impact on international trade, which is said to increase by 20%. "We cannot tell exactly how much of this increase would apply to Latvian entrepreneurs, however, I am certain that this is a positive development that will create large opportunities for local entrepreneurs who want to do trade with Canada and the U.S.
Lolita Cigane sees CETA as a "moment of truth" before the ratification of TTIP in the member states. "We have received positive assessment from entrepreneurs that the agreement will create benefits, however, Members of the Parliament hear public concerns." According to her, much is still to be done to remove unnecessary stereotypes and prejudice, for instance, regarding unhealthy food products for children.
Answering to this example, Artis Pabriks said: " The European Commission as well as the Parliament and personally I, would never give a mandate to lower standards."
The TTIP is set to create economic well-being for business and citizens alike. Economic activity could increase by EUR 119 billion per year in the EU and EUR 95 billion in the U.S., with elimination of tariffs increasing business productivity by EUR 107 billion per year in the EU and EUR 71 billion in the U.S. Cooperation on customs and regulations will reduce the amount of paperwork and administration needed to export products and services. The elimination of tariffs, streamlining of customs procedures and aligning regulations will make it cheaper and easier to export and bring new products to the market.
More about the discussion (in Latvian) broadcasted on Latvian Radio.