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EC's Signe Ratso believes TTIP will help Romanian agricultural products and IT services exporters


The expansion of commercial exchanges between the European Union and the US could bring benefits to Romania mostly to the agriculture and services sectors, believes Director in the European Commission's Directorate-General for Trade, Signe Ratso.

She maintains that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will help Romanian exporters of agricultural products because "the agricultural rates will be removed and a full liberalization will be made in respect to several tariffs which are of great interest in exports for Romania — for wine, cheese, nuts, plum brandy, processed foods, etc."

"Agriculture is a very important export sector for Romania, which is not fully capitalised on. (...) We don't wish to draw up new strategies, but we want to ensure the observance of conformity, and Romania has benefited from such a commitment from the US. There still aren't any wide commercial exchanges in agriculture between Romania and the US, although the past years' results seem promising. The expansion of the commercial exchanges would be in the area of this Agreement and we know it will be a beneficial thing for Romania — it would benefit from wider exports, beyond meat — fruit, vegetables, etc," Signe Ratso said in the Senate on Thursday during the debate "The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — an European Approach," organised by the Committee on European Affairs.

The European Commission representative added that the services area is one which "could make the most of the transatlantic exchanges."

"Romania is among the top five countries, alongside the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands, for instance, which export such services to the US. The main services exported to the US are IT and business services, and we know the software exports are a successful story — they represent 40 percent of the total services exported to the US. In the IT area, Romania has a far better performance than in all the other areas together. In respect to the SMEs, we can say that 60 percent of Romanian exporters to the US are SMEs," Signe Ratso explained.

According to her, both the European Union and the United States of America are fully committed to obtain a free trade agreement between the US and the EU "comprehensive, ambitious and with high protection standards.”

"Just this week the 15th round of negotiations is taking place in New York. It is true that the negotiations aren't exactly in the final form, however the EC has a full support from the European leaders to continue the negotiations and both sides remain fully committed to obtain a comprehensive, ambitious and with high protection standards free trade agreement. However, given the context, we know that elections are upcoming in the US and the negotiations will most likely slow down, but both sides want to consolidate the progress registered so far, and the EC is prepared to start a new dialogue with the new administration in the US as soon as possible," she told a debate hosted by the Senate on Thursday on "The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - an European approach," organised by the Senate's Committee on European Affairs. 

The EC representative also pointed out that the TTIP is a foreign policy instrument as it represents "an extraordinary symbol of renewing the transatlantic partnership," but also brings an economic potential which will help the EU and the US remain "global importance actors in the 21st century." 

"We want an ambitious agreement, but one observing the existing legislative framework and an agreement not leading, under no circumstance, to a standard lowering. We can reduce those barriers standing in the way of transatlantic trade, customs barriers included, keeping at the same time high standards for consumer and environment protection. TTIP has a very great bilateral impact. It represents a possibility for the US and the EU to set standards in terms of protection, consumer protection, included, but also commercial standards on an international level. Our trade partners in Asia or other corners of the world are closely watching what we negotiate under the TTIP, because they know that if we combine efforts we'll have a much more important role in the global arena," she also said. 

The European official added that there is much sensitivity among citizens who wish these trade negotiations be transparent. 

"People want to know about what exactly we are negotiating. The European Commission has made considerable efforts to improve the understanding degree and the perception regarding the TTIP, because many times, perceptions aren't based on data, but on rumors and impressions which distort facts. The EC has taken the initiative of making public its position when it gets a conclusion of the negotiations, therefore we shall make public what is discussed and as soon as an agreement is reached, we'll publish what we obtained," Signe Ratso pointed out. 

Signe Ratso also pointed out that SMEs represent about 99 percent of the economic players both in the EU and the US. 

"That is why we also need a regulation component in these negotiations for SMEs still haven't the capacity of large corporations of respecting two sets of standards at the same time. If the barriers preventing them from getting on the other side of the Atlantic are much too prohibitive, they will not benefit from the Agreement," the EC representative also said. 

The Senate's Committee on European Affairs and the Economy, Trade and Relations with the Business Environment Ministry organised in Parliament on Thursday the debate "The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) - an European Approach."



Friday, October 7, 2016