Ahead of the 14th round of negotiations on the TTIP agreement, the Federation of German Industries (BDI) is pushing for extensive progress to be made. The BDI is also calling upon EU heads of state and government to express their clear support for free trade agreements like TTIP and CETA.
“In the wake of the British referendum, it is more important than ever that we strengthen the EU and provide positive stimuli for growth,” said BDI President Ulrich Grillo on Sunday in Berlin. “What the German and European economies need right now is not infighting and years of deadlock in the national parliaments, but a determined commitment to a common trade policy.”
The BDI President believes that following the Brexit shock, another grave threat is looming for Europe: “We must not end up as mere spectators on the sidelines when it comes to international trade.” Grillo emphasised that the EU is still one of the most influential setters of standards worldwide. “We Europeans will have a better chance of shaping the process of globalisation to include high standards if we tackle these issues shoulder to shoulder with the United States,” he said.
He reminded listeners that Germany is one of the most export-oriented economies in the world, but also one of the most export-dependent. “And who is going to take a trading partner seriously who doesn’t take its own trade policy seriously? German industry expects the Federal Government to commit fervently to TTIP and CETA.”
Grillo called on the TTIP negotiators to remain ambitious and keep on task: “It is time for the negotiations to gather pace. Otherwise TTIP runs the risk of coming to an indefinite standstill when the US presidential election campaign hots up.” He stressed that important topics like public procurement, investment protection, and tariffs must be intensely negotiated.
As far as CETA is concerned, said Grillo, there is no reason for EU legislators and the member state parliaments to adopt the same sweeping criticism as the free-trade opponents: “CETA is a modern agreement that meets the needs of consumers, the economy and policymakers.” Grillo added that by extensively opening up public procurement markets and establishing an investment court, CETA is setting new, forward-looking standards.
Grillo called upon the Council of the European Union to make rapid progress on CETA so that the agreement is ready to sign at the EU-Canada Summit this October. He stressed the importance of a Council decision on the provisional application of those areas of the agreement where the EU has sole competence.