Minister: EU-US free trade talks must be transparent

Speaking at a meeting of European Union trade ministers in Brussels on Friday, Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship Anne Sulling said Estonia considers it important that progress in the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was made based on the negotiating guidelines agreed by the member states and that the negotiating process itself was as transparent as possible.

Sulling said that while the mandate for the talks and some of the EU positions have been made public already earlier, more information must be supplied in order for the public to be better informed about what is being negotiated, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Economy and Communications said.

“The free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States is very ambitious and embraces a wide variety of issues. To avoid potential misconceptions, one must be more open in the negotiating process than so far,” Sulling said.

As the Estonian minister said, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has confirmed that the free trade treaty between the EU and the United States is definitely a priority for the European Commission and the commissioner hopes to be able to give a new impetus to the negotiations, which all member states are expecting.

“Estonia backs an agreement that promises profound liberalization that is as wide-ranging as possible. We find that in addition to the European Union and the United States also other countries stand to gain from this agreement. If the two biggest global trade partners agree about rules between themselves, this will have a positive effect also on third countries as well as the global trade system,” Sulling said.

The impact from the EU-U.S. free trade treaty on the EU economy is estimated to total 100 billion euros annually. The direct and indirect impact on Estonia might be even bigger because of Estonia’s high degree of dependence on foreign trade. For Estonia the United States was the eighth biggest trading partner in 2013. Estonia’s exports to the United States in that year totalled 358 million euros, making up 2.9 percent of Estonia’s total exports.

Source: Estonian Review via BNS

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