3:00 P.M. EST
NEW YORK FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, 799 UNITED NATIONS PLAZA, 10TH FLOOR
MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. Thank you all for coming out today for our briefing on U.S.-EU trade strategy with the American point of view. With us today is Shaun Donnelly, who is the Vice President of Investment and Financial Services for the U.S. Council for International Business. Shaun Donnelly will speak about business efforts to open markets abroad for American investment and financial services. He will also address the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP.
Before joining the United States Council for International Business, Mr. Donnelly spent over 30 years with the U.S. Department of State in a wide range of roles, including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs as well as the U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka.
Mr. Donnelly will give opening remarks. Then we’ll have time for some questions. When you ask your question, please state your name and organization, as this is being transcribed.
Mr. Donnelly, thanks so much for being here.
MR. DONNELLY: Okay, thanks. Thanks. I hope we can make this very informal.
I first got involved with the European Union back in 1992 when I took over the European Union desk at the State Department and it was in the midst of the single market European integration and so on. And it was not long thereafter – I think ’95 – Sir Leon Brittan, who was then the Trade Commissioner for the European Commission, proposed the idea of a TAFTA, a transatlantic free trade agreement. And I’m not saying that was the first time the idea has been around, but it has bounced around in various times. I’ve seen it in several different jobs that I’ve had. At the State Department, I was at one point the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative in charge of Europe, so if we had started this negotiation when I was in that job, I’d be the lead negotiator. But my successor, Dan Mullaney, does that now. And then I’ve worked on it in a couple of different trade associations.
What I’m going to say is – are the views of my organization, the U.S. Council for International Business, but I think it’s broadly a view of U.S. business toward the U.S.-Europe economic relationship and the TTIP, as I’ll call it, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership specific. Make no claim to be speaking for the U.S. Government. That part of my life is finished.
So I think you know that the second round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiation is going on this week in Brussels. This is the round that was supposed to take place in early October and got scrubbed because of the U.S. Government shutdown cancellation. It was canceled at the last minute. I was supposed to go on a speaking tour about TTIP, and my trip got cancelled too, so I felt it personally.
The U.S. business community, and certainly USCIB, think this is really an important effort. We don’t think it’s easy. We don’t think it’s going to happen quickly. We want it to happen as quickly as it can. But what we’re trying to do here is really important. One of the reasons we’re doing it is, frankly, because the multilateral system is not delivering new trade liberalization. I think the last WTO-wide trade liberalization agreement was the Uruguay Round. I mean, there have been some pluralaterals among some WTO members, but – and what we’ve seen since the early ’90s when the Uruguay Round was concluded is all members kind of going off and doing bilateral free trade agreements, multi – regional kinds of agreements and so on, the U.S. and Europe among them. And now I think we feel in the U.S. business community it’s a natural for the two biggest economic groups, the U.S. and the European Union, to try to do a trade agreement. It’s only worth doing if we do it as a very ambitious, high-standard, comprehensive agreement. We are on the steering committee, my organization, of what’s called the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade, BCTT. And all the big trade associations and – are on that group – the U.S. Chamber, the manufacturers, and others.
We have three mantras that we say: that the TTIP is only worth doing if it is ambitious, if it’s comprehensive, and if it’s high standard. And to us, comprehensive means no sectoral carve-outs, no issues are too sensitive. So, frankly, we get upset when our friends from the European Union have said up front the audio-visual sector is too sensitive and can’t be negotiated. Or we’ve heard several prominent Europeans saying that the European approach to food safety, the so-called precautionary principle, is untouchable, that that cannot be on the table. Doesn’t mean we’re going to fundamentally change anything, but we think when you go into a negotiation, taking things off of the table is the wrong approach. It’s the same thing we’re trying to do in the Trans-Pacific – the TPP negotiation.
Just to highlight a couple of the sectors that are particularly important for our member companies, but I think by extension are for the American business community in general: Of course market access. Tariffs across the Atlantic generally are not so high. There are still a few sensitive areas. We’d like to see those come down. We’d like to see all tariffs eliminated. We think the agriculture and what are called SPS, Sanitary and Phytosanitary – these are the food safety kinds of rules – are very important. And frankly, that’ll be a big challenge. Investment is very important. Both the U.S. and Europe are both major both sources of and recipients of foreign direct investment. There’s something like $4 billion in investment stock across the Atlantic, and it’s obviously going to grow. Intellectual property rights have always been key to both free trade agreements that the U.S. and Europe have done, and that includes copyrights, patents – including pharmaceutical patents, sensitive issue – trademarks. And one area that will be difficult will be the European system of what’s called geographical indications, this idea that every frankfurter has to come from Frankfurt or something like that. It’s really an old world-new world difference about wines and cheeses and sausages and what can be named what. So that’ll be, again, a challenging issue.
But one of the new areas that, frankly, the U.S. and I think Europe haven’t had in previous trade agreements is so-called regulatory coherence. This is really – if you look at – I mean, take the automobile sector. You have companies like BMW manufacturing both in Europe and in the United States. You’ve got Ford manufacturing both in Europe and in the United States. And the automobile safety standards are quite different – the seatbelts, the headlights, and so on like that. And to have to meet separate standards – a lot more design expense, a lot more testing, manufacturing different models. I think most experts – and I’m certainly not an auto expert – would sort of stipulate that the level of safety and protection is probably about the same between the two, but what can you do about that? That’s just one example – chemical regulation and other things. And those will be really challenging issues, but if – we really think it’s important. Frankly, the U.S. hasn’t done much regulatory areas. We’re trying to do it in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation, but that will take a while.
Cross-border data flows, a very important new issue. If you’re trying to run a supply chain or run a transnational company, you need to be able to move data about your customers, your finances, your employees, and so on like this. That gets into the privacy area, gets into other areas. That will be very important. This whole nature, I mean, supply chains, the way that companies are organized these days is very different than even 10 years ago. And we’re trying to – there’ll be a customs and what’s called trade facilitation chapter in this agreement which will – we have certain things our members would like to see that would facilitate movements. What’s a de minimis amount? In the U.S., it’s going to go up to $800. You can bring up to $800 without having to through all the customs procedures. In the EU, it varies by country, but some of them are as low as $50 or something, and that’s, I think, a disincentive to trade, particularly small businesses and so on like that. But that – those are just an example.
The other thing I would say is the U.S. business community, mainly through this coalition that we’re actively involved in, is working closely with business groups in Europe. And I think our agendas align very much, not 100 percent – there are a few things that are different. There are some areas where, frankly, European positions – Europe is asking things of the United States Government about opening up investment in financial services and other areas – airlines, some of those restrictions to us in the business community. We would support that as well. And we’re trying to find ways that the two business communities can send a message to both governments that we really share an interest in getting a high-standard agreement, getting it done as quickly as we can, but the quality of the agreement is much more important than the speed with which we get it.
So why don’t I stop there. That’s just our general approach to it. I will admit up front there are some subject areas of the negotiation that I know more about, and some that I know less about, but I’d certainly be glad to talk about anything that’s on your mind and try to – try to address any issues that you’d like to talk about.
QUESTION: Some – on the TTIP, some of the people back in China – I’m from China --
MR. DONNELLY: Okay.
QUESTION: -- are concerned because they said the EU and U.S. will have another trade bloc, which will have an adverse impact on China. Do you share this view? Why? If you --
MR. DONNELLY: I don’t. I mean, I know there are some people in China that are also concerned about the so-called TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well. None of these agreements are aimed against anybody, and I certainly – our view is that if we succeed at getting a high-standard trade agreement, I would hope it would be an open agreement – other countries that would like to join and reach those standards. But it’s going to be a very ambitions standard of openness and commitment to liberalization and transparency and trade would be welcome to do it, but I don’t see us adding anybody else.
It’s not aimed at anybody else. This is about two big blocs in the global trading system that have a lot in common. We’re mature industrial economies, and it just seems we should be able to find ways to align our trade regimes, our investment regimes, our regulatory procedures that will help reduce cost. It would also, I would argue, help a Chinese company that is trying to sell in both Europe and in United States if standards become more similar, if a Chinese company wants to invest in the United States or in Europe to serve both Europe and the United States. So it’s certainly not aimed against anybody, and I think helps keep the – the analogy that’s always given about the bicycle of trade liberalization moving forward at a time that, frankly, not enough is happening in the WTO. I know China is very active in, what’s it called, the ARSIP negotiation. So I think we see lots of countries – we’re not invited or we’re not included in that. That doesn’t really bother us. We think anything that keeps trade liberalization and moving forward is a benefit. So tell everyone in China to relax.
PARTICIPANT: I’m Jonathan Huneke. I’m Shaun’s colleague up here in New York doing public affairs communications for USCIB. And one of the issues that you may want to address is the BIT, the bilateral investment treaty with China.
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
PARTICIPANT: I mean, the U.S. has a pretty ambitious trade and commercial agenda, and it includes --
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
PARTICIPANT: -- talks towards a bilateral investment (inaudible).
MR. DONNELLY: I mean, obviously for us – you’re right, Jon, and this is not in the Transatlantic space, but if we talk with our member companies, what are their international priorities, China always pops to the top of that. And we are also strong supporters of this effort that the U.S. and China are doing to negotiate a bilateral investment treaty. I mean, I think we just had the 10th round of that negotiation in Washington in late October, I think it was, and there’ll be another round early next year. That one will be in China. It’s not going to happen soon. None of these trade or investment agreements – they’re very complicated, but definitely China is an important part of it, and we want to strengthen our relationships with China in that regard.
QUESTION: Hi. Yeah, I’m Hiroyuki Nishimura from Japan’s Nikkei.
MR. DONNELLY: Okay. Great.
QUESTION: It’s usually said that during bad economic times, it’s hard to do trade negotiations or investment negotiations because politicians will have to deal with the domestic problems.
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: And there’s less room to compromise, right? What do you think is the driving force that put the U.S. and the EU on track of negotiating this?
MR. DONNELLY: Well, you’d have to ask them why the two governments finally decided. I’d just say it isn’t something that was decided quickly. I remember in, I think it was, 2006, maybe 2007, when I was at USTR, Chancellor Merkel came to Washington and wanted to do some kind of a U.S.-European trade agreement. Now, this was when the economy was still going well. It was before the financial problems that the world had in 2008. And it turned out some of her partners in the EU, some people in the U.S., weren’t ready to do it at that point and we set up something called the TEC, the Transatlantic Economic Council, which led to a process of studying the possibility. So it was sort of put in motion and it moved forward and the two sides had a year-long review of the pros and cons, and could we see a way forward to do it. That group made a recommendation to the two trade ministers. It was Commissioner De Gucht and then-USTR Ron Kirk. So this has been kind of in the works for a while. When the U.S. economy was going – I mean, it didn’t start back in 2008-2009, but shortly thereafter.
So I think it’s just a sense that in the globalized world we’re facing with supply chains and so on, we’re each out there; both the U.S. and the EU are out there trying to push trade liberalization with various trade partners. We often doing trade agreements with the same countries – with Korea, for example, is one we’ve each recently done one with. And I think it was just a sense that, well, if we can do it with countries that are so different, or at a different level of development, shouldn’t we be able to do something among the two big economic blocs? So --
QUESTION: Would you say that the TPP in the Asia and Pacific region --
MR. DONNELLY: Right.
QUESTION: -- was that one of the triggers that --
MR. DONNELLY: Well, I think there was – my opinion, this is personal opinion – some people in Europe, when they saw the U.S. and most – it didn’t start, like, at a light switch, but the Obama Administration was very clear that there was going to be a turn toward the Pacific, more focus on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, on the economic growth that one saw out there. I think there were some people in Europe that sort of thought, “Well, wait, don’t forget about us,” and – I mean, let’s be clear. For most big American companies and most of our member companies in our trade association, Europe remains the most important foreign area. That’s where we do most of our sales, most of our investment, and so on.
Asia, including China, including Korea, including Japan, but Southeast Asia and elsewhere, is fast growing and new opportunities are opening up. But Europe remains a very important area. So, I mean, I think there’s always been an awful lot of reasons. I mean, you just look how many – how much cross-investment there is – European companies invested in the U.S., American companies invested in Europe. It seems natural to me.
QUESTION: Right. How would the U.S. benefit or the U.S. companies benefit by having these two vehicles or the two tools, the TTIP and the TPP negotiation, going – proceeding at the same time?
MR. DONNELLY: Well, first, I’d say it’s a challenge for our government having to do two big negotiations at the same time, but I think they’re able to do it. But I think if we’re able to succeed in both of them, it opens up more opportunities, particularly in this regulatory space, that – if we can start.
And we’re not going to get it all right in this first – but if we can start to address regulatory differences, because if you – I mean, what, 50, 60 years ago, trade negotiations were all about quotas and tariffs – how much steel were you going to allow, how many automobiles could I ship into what – trade agreements today rarely talk – I mean, tariffs and quotas are really yesterday’s agenda. What’s now is really what are the regulations, what kinds of agricultural products, what kinds are allowed in and what kind of intellectual property regulations. The agenda has really changed, and I think we need a regime that can keep up with that.
So, I mean, from the U.S. – I’ll be candid – I think for us, for U.S. business, the fact they have two big areas looking westward toward the Pacific, and our partners in the TPP looking eastward toward the European Union, it’s pretty exciting. And if we can see progress and barriers coming down and making it easier to invest, easier to trade, easier to protect copyrights and patents, more similar rules on a bunch of areas of customs and so on, that’s got to help. It’s – but even if the U.S. wasn’t doing it, there’s a lot else going on. There’s the RCEP, there are trade negotiations, Japan is negotiating with people. There’s a lot going on, so I think there’s really a bit of competition, and we see both of the two that the U.S. is involved in as being particular opportunities for us to position ourselves well.
QUESTION: I’m Louise With. I’m with the --
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah, great.
QUESTION: -- Danish Business (inaudible).
MR. DONNELLY: Great, okay.
QUESTION: Thank you for meeting us.
MR. DONNELLY: No, it was great. I really enjoyed it. It was a lightning trip, but thanks.
QUESTION: You mentioned that your talks with the businesses in Europe, that there are some --
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- there’s a lot of things in common --
MR. DONNELLY: Right.
QUESTION: -- but there are some sensitive issues and --
MR. DONNELLY: Right.
QUESTION: -- that you don’t share.
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: What are those? Could you talk a little bit more specific about what’s sensitive to them, what’s sensitive to you guys --
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- the things you don’t share? (Laughter.)
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah. I mean – and I wouldn’t – and again, I would put this in context, but intellectual property, there’s some difference in pharmaceutical patent regimes because the European healthcare system is organized a little bit differently than the American healthcare system, which drives us to (inaudible). We’d like to see more similarity in that area. Intellectual property, as I talked about, geographical indications. The European position, they’re very concerned about procurement. There’s a feeling that U.S. Government procurement is – there’s too many of what are called “Buy America” provisions and --
QUESTION: Public tender.
MR. DONNELLY: -- public tenders and so on require Congress passing legislation that all steel used in certain things has to be American steel. I mean, we don’t disagree with that. We would – that would be okay with us. It’s not on our agenda, though, as we look toward Europe.
Another area, the – in financial services, which is complicated, of course, with the – some of the financial regulatory forms. We have Dodd-Frank; the EU is working out its financial reforms. But there’s a lot of financial market access things. The services sector really still lags behind the industrial goods sector, which isn’t really surprising. But I think we’d like to see a lot more progress there.
But the European financial services companies are very intent on getting some regulatory change in the U.S., which is a little bit different than where we are. We’re – I think the cross-border data flows issue is very important to the U.S. We haven’t heard that as much from some of our European friends, which is a little surprising, and a little disappointing. We think that’s --
QUESTION: Do you know what happened?
MR. DONNELLY: Well, whatever. This is about data and moving – can you imagine running a big multinational company and you can’t get – your branch in Brussels or Helsinki or Copenhagen can’t send that day? I mean, we’ve worked out ways before, consistent with the European privacy directives, and I think we can, but we’re going through a bit of a political challenge there. It isn’t about trade agreements and so on like that. We’re not – that’s not our business.
But I think it’s really – it’s small areas. I think – and the – if you were to ask BUSINESSEUROPE, the big coalition, or Danish Industry – when I was in Copenhagen recently, the one issue that I ended up having a little different view from your CEO, whom we’re going to meet with tomorrow in Washington, he’s coming – but was about standards and – product standards for pens, for water bottles, and so on like this. And the European system and the American system for product standards are really quite different. The European system is much more government-centered, much more European-centered. The American system for developing product standards for all kinds of products is much more private sector-focused and so on like that.
And – but if we’re going to do this regulatory coherence, we’ve got to find a way to somehow make standards. The U.S. business community point of view is that the European standard system only recognizes European standards as international standards, if – where standards that are developed by U.S. standards bodies cannot, by definition, be international because they’re not European, which we find a little challenging, but that’s --
QUESTION: I guess there’s sort of like a cliche or the old-school view in Europe or the fear is --
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- that when you do some like this, you’ll end up with this race to the bottom where --
MR. DONNELLY: Well, nobody’s racing to the bottom.
QUESTION: I know.
MR. DONNELLY: No, exactly.
QUESTION: I would say Americans will always try to go for more openness, less regulation, less sort of upfront protection, whether it’s foods or chemicals or – do you think that still holds, or is that just..?
MR. DONNELLY: I think the perception is still there and people come at it from all different kinds of angles. I mean, I have too many scars from this issue for many years, but – in my government days, but – I mean, the American view on food safety and other product standards is it’s science-based. You run the science, you do the risk calculation, risk management, and if something meets the standards. And frankly, as we’ve seen at a couple of WTO cases, the European precautionary principle really isn’t so much about – it’s about science till the end, but if there’s a chance, even if we can’t prove it, if there might be a chance, then you can go ahead and restrict it, which we just find opens up too many questions that should be determined by science to a more politicized process of if you have activist groups that are opposed to something or fracking or something like this. We ought to have a debate and develop and the science tells you this is safe, the risk on this is .0000, and so on. And so it’s really hard for us as Americans, and American business, to get our handle around what’s going to be the next area that our friends in Europe might find is sensitive and scares us. We don’t – we can’t prove it’s unsafe, but it might be unsafe, so we want to restrict it or make you put warning signs on it.
MR. DONNELLY: They’re very different cultures.
MR. DONNELLY: And for two societies that have a lot in common, we’re different. I mean, I think – I won’t try to analyze it, but they’re just different, and we have to know that going in. But I don’t think that should discourage us from trying to get an ambitious trade agreement.
QUESTION: So you mentioned this several factors that are under discussion.
MR. DONNELLY: Yes.
QUESTION: In this round, which is the most difficult issue that will be tackled? And also --
MR. DONNELY: Well, but – oh, sorry.
QUESTION: And there’s another question related.
MR. DONNELY: No, no.
QUESTION: So there’s the Asian talk, there’s the European talk --
MR. DONNELY: Right.
QUESTION: So both talks are ambitious --
MR. DONNELY: Right.
QUESTION: -- high-standard --
MR. DONNELY: Right.
QUESTION: -- and comprehensive. So if you want to make a comparison of the two, which is more ambitious? And which is higher? (Laughter.)
MR. DONNELY: Well, they’re both going to be a hundred out of a hundred, how’s that? No.
QUESTION: Sorry. That’s the last part.
MR. DONNELY: Oh. How many parts to this question?
QUESTION: The third part.
MR. DONNELY: Okay.
QUESTION: So some of the people are concerned about the talks because – I didn’t follow the talks and --
MR. DONNELY: No.
QUESTION: -- the public can verify it because there’s certain sections of the TTIP --
MR. DONNELY: Right.
QUESTION: -- which deals with the state-owned enterprises.
MR. DONNELY: Yes. Right.
QUESTION: That’s – keeps the people, the Chinese people worried, because China’s economy is still dominated by –
MR. DONNELY: Right. It has a lot of state-owned enterprises, right.
QUESTION: So that’s my – so that’s the worries mainly comes from.
MR. DONNELY: Well, a couple of things I would say. It’s hard to compare – I mean, the – we must have had, what, 20 rounds in the TPP negotiating. We’re down – as Ambassador Froman keeps saying, we’re down to the final stage, to the endgame, and it’s time to be making the final decisions. And in the European negotiation, the TTIP, we’re in the second round. So this, I don’t know how far – but they’re still putting initial proposals on the table and – whereas in the Trans-Pacific thing, it’s been going on a lot longer. The Trans-Pacific also has 12 countries in it. I mean, you can say the EU is 28 countries, but it’s two parties, the European Union and the United States. So it’s more straightforward in that regard, the geometry with 12 different countries, some of which care about one issue more than another, and so on.
So we certainly in the business community – our message to our negotiators, to the U.S. Government, is each of them has to be ambitious, and the agendas, the issues are the same. State-owned enterprises, you mentioned – the TPP, the Trans-Pacific negotiation, was really the first U.S. trade negotiation where this issue came forward. And we also – we believe, certainly going forward, we would like to see it in all our trade agreements. We have state-owned enterprises in the United States, owned by the federal government, owned by state governments, and so on. And I just think as an economist, it’s a legitimate issue. I mean, when state-owned enterprises are doing state functions, when the postal service is delivering mail, that’s a state function. When the postal service is competing with FedEx or UPS or private things for high-priced package delivery express service, there they’re going head-to-head with a private enterprise, and they ought to have an equal playing field. The government, whether it’s the Chinese Government, the American Government, the Swiss Government, shouldn’t give preferential treatment to the national post office compared to FedEx or UPS or TNT, the European carrier. It needs to be equal treatment then, where – in our – equal treatment in terms of access to finance, in taxes, in regulatory things, and so on. It’s a big issue – Japan Post, as it competes – I mean, that’s been around the U.S.-Japan trade negotiations for years and years. And so on.
So we’ll see what happens in the TPP. I’m not privileged to what’s going on inside the negotiations, but we think it’s really – just conceptually, when private enterprises and public enterprises are competing, as they are more and more in the business sector, they ought to compete equally. You don’t punish the state-owned enterprise, and you don’t advantage it. And we’ll see. This isn’t the first time we’ve done it, but it’ll be important.
Now, between the U.S. and Europe, there aren’t so many state-owned enterprises as there are in some of the Trans-Pacific partners, like Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore have strong state-owned sectors. And this is not an attempt from the U.S. to say you shouldn’t have state-owned enterprises. That’s a sovereign decision for every government to make. But if you’re going to have them, and if they’re going to compete with private sector, they ought to compete equally.
With Europe, it’s both make sure our state – when we’re competing with state-owned enterprises – but also we would like to see if Europe and the United States can have similar approaches with the rest of the world. And maybe some point we take a state-owned enterprise issue into the WTO in a future round; I don’t know. I just think it’s one of these what are called new generation issues. I mean, if you go back to the GATT, all it did was industrial goods. Then you get into the WTO and instead – it’s industrial goods, it’s also agriculture, IPR, and a little bit of investment. Now we’re coming along others. That’s been the pattern. The agenda in trade isn’t kind of just kind of carved in stone what came down from Geneva or something. It evolves over time, and we’ll see. But we want them both to be ambitious. We’ll see what the market gives.
QUESTION: Yeah. So I think, given the nature of the --
MR. DONNELY: Right.
QUESTION: -- nations involved --
MR. DONNELY: Right.
QUESTION: -- TTIP is much more high-standard than TPP.
MR. DONNELY: Many people think that. I’m not prepared to admit it because that implies that the TPP would be lower standards, and I don’t want to – I don’t think we should settle for lower standards.
QUESTION: Okay, but –
MR. DONNELY: But you’re entitled to your opinion.
QUESTION: Okay. So if that is the case – well, even if that is not the case – do you see the higher standard elements, like, flowing into or impacting the negotiations in TPP?
MR. DONNELLY: To be honest with you, I don’t know. What I would say, though, the TPP in most chapters, people have been working on for years and we’re getting to the end game. And the texts are down there and there are bracketed text, and the effort is to take brackets off and get to a final solution. We’re nowhere near that, so it’s very hard for something where everybody’s still talking about concepts: How do you regulate investment? How do you determine what qualifies for protection as a geographical indication? The two sides – a lot of the – I mean, they’re calling them negotiating rounds, but it’s still a fair amount of exploring. How do you do this in your FTAs? Can you – we’ve looked at your text. Why do you make this reservation? Why do you need to carve out that?
So I think it’s very hard for me to imagine something getting to such a critical stage where you really have a breakthrough in the TTIP – I have to get my acronyms right – in the Europe negotiation that it could sometime – somehow have the time to get there, because I don’t think people are really looking to add new things into the Trans-Pacific thing. The effort there is to try to get it done. Now, whether getting it done is possible this year or not is a question that people have different views on. It certainly is a very ambitious timeframe, but we’d certainly like to see it done as soon as possible.
QUESTION: All right. Do you think at least the U.S. business or the U.S. Government want to have the same kind of standard what you will see in TTIP and in TPP?
MR. DONNELLY: Well, I think we have the same objectives. Yeah, I don’t know that there’s anything fundamentally different that would cause us to say in Asia we want to do it this way and in Europe we want to do it that way. I think that’s right. But these are negotiations, and what you have is your ideal; you quickly start trying to figure out what’s doable and what’s really important to your partners and so on.
So I mean, if you look at the pattern of U.S. free trade agreements, they’re all a little bit different. And these two will probably be more different, I mean, the TTIP, the Europe agreement, I think, because we’re negotiating with a very big and important partner that has real power and has strong ideas about what an FTA should look like. And in the TPP when you’re negotiating with 11 other countries, including a country like Japan now, which has strong views about how – in many cases it lines up with the U.S. view, in some cases it’s quite different, as on agriculture or something. So – but in terms of the objective, I think that we start out with, is quite similar. If it wasn’t, something would be wrong, I think.
QUESTION: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: In terms of the timing --
MR. DONNELLY: Yes.
QUESTION: -- in the talks with Europe --
MR. DONNELLY: Right.
QUESTION: -- I did some work on this already and I --
MR. DONNELLY: Okay. You may know more than I do. Okay.
QUESTION: -- spoke with (inaudible) ambassador, who was saying it needs to be pretty fast and swift --
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
QUESTION: -- because otherwise, I think he called them the trade policy ayatollah, so all of the sort of like well-known stiff positions --
MR. DONNELLY: Right, right.
QUESTION: -- the reasons why it hasn’t happened --
MR. DONNELLY: Right, right, right.
QUESTION: -- would come and the lobbyists and so forth --
MR. DONNELLY: Well, this – this isn’t very many people – I’m sorry, go ahead.
QUESTION: But then, so now it’s already been delayed and then the – all the scandals with the Snowden revelations and the government shutdown, and it’s already going slower than we thought. So do you think that’s going to be a problem that it might go too slow?
MR. DONNELLY: Well, many people who do trade for a living believe that you need to do it quickly, that if you – if negotiations linger, like the Doha round is in the WTO is often cited --
MR. DONNELLY: -- as an example to avoid. The longer something hangs there, it loses momentum, people can start poking holes in it and so on. So you try to get it all lined up and then do it. It doesn’t mean rush precipitously or don’t pay attention to the details, but get it done quickly.
But this is – I don’t think we’re off schedule or anything. I mean, this is going to take a chunk of time. And Mike Froman, the U.S. Trade Representative, I believe said this past summer as they were launching this, we ought to try to do it on one tank of gas. That was his phrase --
QUESTION: Right, yes.
MR. DONNELLY: -- which meant – the idea of let’s not linger and let’s get it done in a – now, how much gas are you consuming? What mileage do you get? Is it a hybrid? (Laughter.) Someone was --
QUESTION: Let’s hope so.
MR. DONNELLY: Someone was saying maybe they meant one tanker of gas, I don’t know. (Laughter.) But everybody would like to see it done quickly. But this is complicated stuff, but I – we had a round in September. We’re now having a round in November. There’s going to be a round in December. Three rounds in four months is a faster pace than we did in TTIP or in any other trade negotiation that I know of. Now, we’re still in the exploratory kind of phase.
Mr. Snowden – I don’t know what you can do with – that’s a political thing. And we would hope our friends in Europe – we in the business community would hope our friends in Europe would realize you’re not – whatever you think about the Snowden thing, trying to delay or punish or something the U.S. somehow by holding up the trade agreement would only be disadvantaging all of us. So okay, you’re angry, but that’s not something that the business community really wants to get involved in, and so on. The benefits of an agreement with Europe are evident. They’re evident for both sides, I think. And that’s what the business community is saying – this looks – if this is important, let’s get it done.
QUESTION: What’s a realistic timeframe, do you know, for a scenario?
MR. DONNELLY: Well, these agreements typically take a couple of years. I mean, that’s an ambitious timeframe. And then people start thinking, well, the mandate of the current commission runs out at a certain time, there’s an election in Y place here, the president, midterm. I’m not going to speculate on the elections. I just think to do a serious negotiation typically takes a couple of years. And if you can put more resources in it and move it a little bit faster, great.
But I think there’s a risk – this is a personal opinion – of setting unrealistic expectations. Oh, we’re going to get this done in a year, and then you don’t get it done in the year, and people think you’ve failed or you’re falling behind or it must be a problem. I think it’s more important to have a realistic expectation, to have a shared commitment we’re going to do this as quickly as we can. We’re going to find ways to resolve problems, not to let them fester and slow down a negotiation. But setting unrealistic timelines doesn’t serve anybody’s interest, I don’t think. Anyway.
MODERATOR: Is that it?
MR. DONNELLY: Yeah.
MR. DONNELLY: Thanks.
MODERATOR: Well, thank you for being here.
MR. DONNELLY: No, glad to do it. We’re – I think Jonathan may have a list of – we – I work in Washington but our organization is headquartered up here in New York, and we have a bunch – I have colleagues that are experts in a bunch of other issues if you – at some point – and Jonathan does all our media and communications work.
MR. HUNEKE: If anybody’s interested, I do have recent statements, meaning from earlier this year, from both USCIB and the Business Coalition that Shaun mentioned on what U.S. business is looking to get out of TTIP. So if you’re looking for a deeper dive, it’s all in here. So I’ll leave these here.
MR. DONNELLY: And I will just say that these are slightly different. The one that has our logo on it was what was submitted early on when the U.S. Government was saying we invite input from stakeholders – business, labor, NGOs, academics. This is what we collected from our members last spring, I think. But the other document from the coalition was put together over the summer. The coalition has issue working groups that have interested companies and associations involved, and they put – developed these two-page position papers that are the position of the business community on most of the major issues there. It’s on this – the BCCT website has all of that information on it. But – and if you get to Washington sometime, I’d be glad to talk with you down there, certainly.
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