Monday, February 11 11:22:33
The EU-US Free Trade Agreement, due to be announced tomorrow, will give Ireland's export industry a shot in the arm, according to the Irish Exporters Association (IEA) today.
The high level team dealing with a potential US-EU free trade agreement has cleared the way for formal negotiations to begin. President Obama is expected to formally announce the agreement to start the Free Trade Agreement negotiations on tomorrow at his State of the Union message to Congress.
The consequences of the two largest global trading blocs entering into a Free Trade Agreement will be enormous for the future of world trade growth, which has slipped from 15pc growth in 2010, to 5pc in 2011 and down to 2.5pc in 2012.
John Whelan, chief executive of the IEA said it couldn't have come at a better time for Ireland. "Particularly at this time, the announcement of a bold initiative to expand trade and investment, will immediately improve market and business confidence not just in the EU and US, but globally, and will make a significant contribution to our export strategy which is very dependent on EU and US markets growth. The impact of an EU-US Free Trade Agreement is expected to increase trade between the EU and US by E120 billion in goods and services each year, according to the European Commission, and Ireland is expected to gain more than most, with export gains of E5 billion in exports of goods and services per year once the agreement is fully in place," he said.
Irish trade with the US is going through a period of contraction right now, with exports last year falling by E3 billion.
"Hence, the agreement is particularly important to Irish export industry and is expected to create a climate of added investment into Ireland and create a return to strong growth in goods and services exports to the US" John Whelan concluded by saying," the IEA chief said.
"The EU-US Free Trade Agreement announcement will be one of the highlights of the Irish Presidency of the EU, but it is important that the Presidency is used to ensure rapid progress is made in moving ahead with real reductions in trade barriers as soon as possible - rapid progress on the issues outlined below, will be the real legacy of the Irish time in control of this agenda."
The IEA anticipate that the EU-US FTA will be broad in scope, covering the removal both of conventional trade tariffs and of regulatory barriers to trade in goods, services and investment.
Launching such a broad scope negotiations process is however no easy task. The regulatory differences, notably Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) regulations, agricultural subsidy issues and government procurement issues will complicate the progress of a comprehensive FTA, said Mr Whelan.
On tariffs. the goal would be to eliminate all duties on bilateral trade, with the shared objective of achieving a substantial elimination of tariffs upon entry into force and a phasing out of all but the most sensitive tariffs in a short time frame. In the course of negotiations, both sides would consider options for the treatment of the most sensitive products.
The shared ambition would be to progressively move to a more integrated transatlantic marketplace, while respecting fully the right of each side to regulate in a manner that ensures the protection of health, safety, and the environment at the level that each side deems appropriate. By Joe Downes