Speech delivered by Deputy Pat Breen T.D., Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade at the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which was organised by the European Movement Ireland and in collaboration with Grant Thornton.

February 24th, 2014 - Pat Breen

grant-thornton-grant-d-aldonas-event-11-feb-2014-mip-64755-030Details of the Event

The European Movement Ireland in collaboration with Grant Thornton, organised a breakfast briefing on the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Mr Grant D. Aldonas and a high-level panel of speakers including Deputy Pat Breen T.D. Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs & Trade Public Service Reform and the Office of Public Works, and Geraldine Byrne Nason, Second Secretary General, Department of the Taoiseach.

Grant D. Aldonas served as US Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade from 2001 to 2005. Mr Aldonas has had a distinguished career in law, business, and government focusing on international trade and investment and is currently the principal managing director of Split Rock International, a trade and investment consulting firm based in Washington, D.C. which he founded in 2006.
8.05am Keynote address by Grant D. Aldonas § TTIP and what it could mean for Ireland and the EU;
§ The role of IP rights in US FDI and the importance of Ireland’s reputation as a country with a strong IP rights regime to keep the US interested in investing in Ireland;
§ Investor-to-state-dispute settlement provisions (ISDS) and NGO concerns about same;
§ Potential changes to the US tax regime that might impact FDI to Ireland.
8.20am-8.45am Panel Responses Maurice Pratt to comment on the keynote address, and put three particular points to the panellists (one each)
8.25am-8.30am Pat Breen TD Response to Grant Aldonas:
Irish Government priorities on TTIP and the overall importance of TTIP to Ireland and the EU

Speech to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
Tuesday 11th February 2014
Good morning ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to be asked to address you this morning.

We are all well aware of the negotiations taking place between the European Union and the United States and of the ambitious goal that exists to have these talks completed by the end of this year.

It is reported that the EU and the US already trade goods and services worth €2 billion every day. In terms of Ireland, the potential benefits from a successful conclusion to the talks are significant. Since 2010 more that 14% of all US investment to the EU has gone to Ireland. This is a huge figure in view of the fact that Ireland makes up only about one per cent of the population of the EU. In the past five years alone, US investment in Ireland has increased by around 25 per cent and employment in US multinationals here has grown to about 115,000 people in 700 companies.

I know also that the Ireland’s Presidency of the EU Council played an important role in getting both sides to agree a starting point for these crucial talks, talks that provide a real opportunity to bring about economic stability, boost growth and create jobs not alone in Ireland, but also across Europe and throughout the world. In June of last year the Member States of the EU gave the European Commission the green light to commence talks with the United States.

As Chairman of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade I am very conscious of the impact that trade can have on our path to economic recovery. The trade portfolio was added to that of Foreign Affairs following the last general election in 2011 and the remit of the Oireachtas Committee has been extended accordingly. Late last year the Committee completed a report on the way in which its parent Department could contribute to Ireland’s economic recovery.
In carrying out this report the Committee outlined a number of specific recommendations, including:-

The recognition that the restructuring of the Department of Foreign Affairs to include “Trade” has better equipped it to engage in foreign earnings promotion;

The strength of our Embassy network should be used as a platform for trade promotion;

The recognition that the Export Trade Council, chaired by the Tánaiste, has proved an effective instrument in identifying priorities and ensuring high-level overview of the performance of State agencies;
The acknowledgement of the benefits to gained from the work carried out by the Global Irish Network; and

Specifically, in terms of combining the work of the Department with the need to encourage trade with the US, the recommendation that we should establish a Consulate-General in Atlanta and another one in Texas (either in Houston or in Austin) given the importance of that State to trade between Ireland and the US.

I know that the Government has targeted key sectors to encourage job creation and growth in the economy and that intellectual property rights have formed an integral part of operations in many of these sectors.

Intellectual Property Rights are recognised as an increasingly important aspect of how many
EU companies are trading and doing business worldwide, adding value, brand recognition and ensuring certainty for creators and innovators.

I know that the Government is conscious of the central role that Intellectual Property protection plays in further economic development and it has therefore focussed on ensuring that our IP regime compares favourably with best international practice. As Chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade I too am aware of their importance.
It is envisaged that the TTIP negotiations will focus on a number of significant IP Rights issues of mutual interest including, for example, copyright, the protection of trademarks, cooperation in patent protection, the registration of Industrial designs, IPR enforcement and the protection of geographical indications and of plant varieties.

Having regard to the high level of IP protection in both the EU and the US we would welcome the consideration of IP matters in the context of the TTIP negotiations with a view to further strengthening the already robust IP protection regimes.

Ireland’s open economy:
As a small island economy with a limited domestic market, openness to trade and investment has been at the centre of Ireland’s economic strategy for more than 50 years. The continuation of this policy is key to the island’s future economic growth. The deeper and broader economic integration with our largest FDI investor, the United States and its largest trading partner the European Union, offers the prospect of enormous business and economic benefits.

It is estimated that the TTIP, as currently envisaged, will add .5% to EU GDP . It suggests the EU’s economy could benefit by €119 billion a year – equivalent to an extra €545 for a family of four in the EU. According to the impact analysis, the US economy could gain an extra €95 billion a year or €655 per American family.

These benefits would cost very little because they would come about as a result of removing tariffs and doing away with unnecessary rules and bureaucratic hurdles that make it difficult to buy and sell across the Atlantic. The extra economic growth that is expected to come from the TTIP will benefit everyone.
Boosting trade is a good way of boosting our economies by creating increased demand and supply without having to increase public spending or borrowing. The TTIP would be the cheapest stimulus package imaginable. At this time of patch growth and uncertain global economic recovery how can we fail to do everything we can to win for business and employees, extra new opportunities.

A high degree of market integration currently exists between the US and Ireland; Ireland is the number one export platform in the EU for US companies. Ireland is a key part of the global value chain for US companies, particularly for:-
* advanced manufacturing;
* global services provision;
* headquarter and infrastructure functions; and
* R&D activity.

I mentioned earlier that US companies currently employ more than 100,000 people in Ireland. In addition, it is noteworthy that IDA clients export 60% of everything they produce in Ireland to other European economies. The successful conclusion of the negotiations should mean that their imports of components will be cheaper and that we, here in Ireland, will be more competitive in selling to markets around the world.

The major positive impacts of a successful TTIPS for US companies investing in Ireland will come from harmonisation and mutual recognition of regulatory standards, rules and requirements rather than from the more traditional gains such as removal of tariffs. Nevertheless because of the volume of trade, even the removal of relatively small tariffs, will do two things, namely,

Firstly, for SMEs it will remove a costly admin burden. Secondly, while tariffs are low their removal will wipe away a tax on trade, that is on both imports and exports. This will further improve our competitiveness.

The cost of dealing with unnecessary bureaucracy can add the equivalent of tariffs of 10-20% to the price of goods, an extra expense which is paid by the consumer.

The impact on particular sectors will vary depending the breadth and depth of agreement between the two trading blocs. Those sectors that are regulated the most; financial services and life sciences stand to benefit the most from simplification of compliance across the two trading blocs. In addition, agreement on issues such that impact across all internationally trading sectors, will represent a significant achievement. This has considerable international significance for the EU / US economic bloc in setting global standards. This not only applies to standards for existing products and services but more importantly for future technologies and will potentially result in Europe and the US setting the global regulatory standard for tomorrow’s trendsetting technologies and innovations.

In the agriculture sector we have both much to gain and reasons to be cautious. At the moment about 10% of our goods exports come from the agribusiness sector.

Here we have much to gain because the US market has traditionally been well sheltered from import competition based on high tariffs or strict rules and standards. Against that, we produce top quality food products and we are proud of the fact that our cattle are hormone free and are fed out of doors for most of the year.

This facilities in having a top quality product. We are thus mindful of any deal that will open up our markets to imported beef, yet, we are confident that the superior quality of our product can withstand the pressure from its US competitor. Currently, our beef exports to the US are blocked. This will change shortly because to get the overall talks moving we insisted on some key confidence building measure to be put in place for both sides. So we can see that before the TTIP talks are finalised we have won some important achievements connected with the TTIP.

Ireland, as I mentioned earlier is a small open economy. Trade, therefore, is of utmost importance to us. The path to economic recovery is dependent upon it and for that reason any measure which fosters trade must be pursued vigorously. I look forward, therefore, in anticipation to a successful conclusion to the negotiations.