Talking Trade with an Eye to the Future

By Allison Aaronson, Public Affairs Intern at the U.S. Mission to the EU

Today marks the final day of our weeklong blog series, Talking Trade: Stories of the Transatlantic Exchange.

We started off the week with our newest form of trade:  the digital economy.  U.S. Mission to the EU (USEU) Economic Officer Steve Conlon gave us the inside scoop on the U.S. – EU Information Society Dialogue, where he and his colleagues met with their EU counterparts to discuss how we can work together to balance digitally fueled economic growth with high standards of privacy and security.

wrap up image 1Next, USEU Agricultural Minister Counselor Jim Higgiston told us about agricultural trade and its strong, positive influence on our economies. We also learned about some of the agreements supporting transatlantic agricultural trade and simplifying the system for small and medium sized farmers, including the U.S.- EU Organic Equivalency Agreement and the U.S.- EC Wine Agreement.

Yesterday, Donald Prater, Director of FDA Europe at USEU, enlightened us as to the unique challenges of maintaining safety standards in the global pharmaceuticals market. He also discussed the ways in which the U.S. and the EU are joining together to address these challenges, namely, the U.S. – EU Mutual Reliance Initiative.

What I find striking about these analyses is that the consistency and strength of the transatlantic trade relationship is apparent throughout these three seemingly unrelated sectors. The U.S. and the EU are each other’s largest trading partners in almost every sector, a truth that is unquestionably tied to our shared cultural heritage and values. Our digital collaboration is effective because the U.S. and EU are both service-based economies with high levels of innovation and education, but more importantly, because we share a commitment to protecting our citizens’ right to privacy. In the agricultural sector, agreements such as the U.S.-EU Organic Equivalency Agreement and the U.S. – EC Wine Agreement work because the U.S. and the EU have the highest standards for food regulation in the world.  Likewise, we are able to trust our counterpart’s pharmaceutical regulations enough to work towards a shared regulatory system.

The U.S. and the EU are already the world’s most effective trading partners, but we believe we can do even better. We still have opportunities to further open markets, strengthen rules-based investment, decrease regulatory burdens, increase employment, and promote the global competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises. That is why next week, U.S. and EU policymakers will be convening in Brussels for the 10th Round of T-TIP Negotiations. We look forward to the coming week of discussions as our greatest opportunity to build on this thriving relationship, and to collaborate with our European allies to better adapt to our increasingly global society.

Thank you for keeping up with us on #TalkingTrade this week. As always, we appreciate your feedback and would love for you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.  Please look for future installments of #TalkingTrade – there are many facets of the vibrant U.S.-EU trade relationship that we have barely touched on this week. If you want to learn more about T-TIP and next week’s negotiations, please consult the resources below:

White House Fact Sheet: Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)

10th Round of T-TIP Negotiations Information 

Press Conference on the 9th Round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Negotiations

T-TIP Issue-by-Issue Information Center

The Top 10 Myths About TTIP: Separating Fact from Fiction

U.S. and EU Act Together on Global Medical Safety

This is the fourth post in our weeklong blog series, Talking Trade: Stories of the Transatlantic Exchange.

By Donald Prater, Director, FDA Europe at the U.S. Mission to the EU

U.S. demand for medical products grew substantially between the late 1990s and 2010, spurred in large part by the emergence of new medical technologies and services.  Increasingly, this demand has been met by imported products. Since 2002, for example, imports of pharmaceutical products and biologics have more than doubled, and medical device imports have quadrupled. Foreign-sourced pharmaceuticals now account for some 40% of medicines and an astonishing 80% of active ingredients in U.S.-consumed drugs.

pharmaceutical image 1Similarly, medical products in Europe are increasingly reliant on foreign-sourced materials and face the same challenges of longer and more complex supply chains. Additional shared challenges include an increasing number of clinical trials conducted across the world and risks from substandard/counterfeit/falsified products finding their way to consumers.

As the Director of FDA’s Europe Office, it is my mission to coordinate our global engagement within a European regulatory and public health context to ensure the safety and quality of FDA-regulated products. Many of the regulatory counterparts with which FDA works are located in Europe. In fact, over 50% of FDA’s international agreements are with entities located or headquartered in Europe.

With our European regulatory counterparts, FDA is actively sharing data, information, and technical expertise. Since 2009, FDA and the European Medicines Agency have enhanced our collaboration through the exchange of dedicated liaison officers embedded within each agency, and through engagement in 11 “clusters of activity”, including advanced medical therapies, biosimilar medicines, blood products, oncology, orphan products, patient involvement, pediatrics, pharmacogenomics, pharmacovigilance, vaccines, and veterinary medicines.

pharmaceutical image 2Ensuring the quality of products in a global environment is a tall order. At every stage in the production of pharmaceutical products, and all along the global supply chain, things can go wrong.  Products can be improperly formulated, manufactured, or packaged. They can be contaminated or counterfeited. And the challenges are multiplied when the supply chain stretches around the world.

Today, the FDA regulates products from over 150 countries, many with much less sophisticated regulatory systems than our own. International standards harmonization and collaboration, for example, in regulated-site inspection activities, can help leverage the limited resources of FDA and our foreign counterparts. It is for this reason that our regulatory partners in Europe are such an important ally.

In 2014, the U.S. and EU launched the U.S.-EU Mutual Reliance Initiative, a strategic collaboration between the FDA, the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency. The aim of the initiative is to determine that each side has the capability of conducting inspections that meet the respective regulatory requirements. Once a determination is made, each side would then be able to rely on the other’s inspections to be more efficient and effective in targeting resources for inspecting pharmaceutical operations and for other appropriate purposes.

This type of collaboration not only increases our ability to evaluate pharmaceutical facilities, but allows experts to learn from each other. It also benefits patients by refocusing efforts to better address problems before adverse public health outcomes potentially occur. The result: more efficient use of resources and improved pharmaceutical availability.

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U.S.-EU Agricultural Collaboration and the Food to Jobs Pipeline

This is the third post in our weeklong blog series, Talking Trade: Stories of the Transatlantic Exchange.

By Jim Higgiston, Agricultural Minister Counselor at the U.S. Mission to the EU

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a group of agriculture students from the University of Illinois, who hoped to learn more about the agricultural trade relationship between the U.S. and the EU. I like to think they were fascinated by my briefing on the U.S. and EU agricultural systems and how they intersect, but as students preparing to enter the job market, I am sure they more anxiously awaited my answer to the question “What do you really do as a Foreign Agricultural Service Officer?”

Over the past 28 years, I agimage1have analyzed commodities, represented U.S. companies at trade shows, coordinated food aid, worked on agricultural trade agreements, … the list goes on. In reality, my mission is simple. I go to work every day to ensure that Americans can eat Belgian chocolate and drink French wine, and that Europeans have access to Alaska salmon and Starbuck’s Frappuccinos. In other words, my goal is to ensure that U.S. and EU agricultural markets are as open to each other as they possibly can be.

The vibrant U.S. – EU agricultural trade relationship is perhaps even more important to our economies than it is to our taste buds. Trade in agricultural goods between the U.S. and the EU amounted to over $30 billion in 2014, and has been a dependable lucrative force in both economies throughout recent history.

U.S. consumers have developed a taste for high-quality food products from Europe, leading to huge imports of European wine, cheese, and olive oil. In 2013 alone, Americans spent $1 billion (0.91€ billion) on European olive oil. The EU primarily imports bulk commodities from the United States, with tree nuts and soybeans making up the largest component of US agricultural exports to the EU.  Additionally, exports of high quality consumer-oriented products from the U.S. are on the rise.


This dynamic trade relationship has been bolstered by several trade agreements, facilitated by the fact that the U.S. and the EU have the highest food safety standards in the world. As of 2012, certified organic products can be represented as such across the Atlantic, thanks to the U.S.-EU Organic Equivalency Arrangement  This arrangement succeeded in reducing the administrative burden of overseas trade for organic producers, a benefit that is particularly advantageous for small and medium sized businesses that did not previously have the administrative capacity to obtain organic certification overseas. Similarly, the U.S.-EC Wine Agreement of 2005 established the mutual acceptance of all existing US and EU winemaking processes and established processes for the acceptance of future production processes.

Though agriculture sectors make up less than 5% of total GDP in both the U.S. and the EU, the impact of agriculture on these economies extends far beyond this statistic. Many manufacturing sectors use agricultural inputs as raw materials, and spending on agricultural products makes up a large share of household spending (13% in the U.S. and 18% in the EU). In 2013, every dollar (0.91€) of agricultural exports stimulated another $1.22 (1.10€) in business activity in the United States.


Moreover, agricultural trade has a strong positive influence on the labor market. Agricultural income in the EU has experienced faster growth over the past five years than any other sector.   In the U.S., overseas sales of agricultural products supported more than 1 million full-time American jobs, both on and off the farm. That means more higher-paying jobs for Europeans and Americans alike, including, I hope, the soon- to-be-employable students of the University of Illinois.

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U.S. and EU Lead the Way in a Profitable and Safe Digital Economy

This is the second post in our weeklong blog series, Talking Trade: Stories of the Transatlantic Exchange.

By Steve Conlon, Economic Officer at the U.S. Mission to the EU

digital image 1When we think about trade, we often picture boxes lined up in orderly rows on conveyor belts and big container ships. Trade evokes images of dollar bills and euro coins, of planes and trains and Sunday markets. Trade looks like a physical exchange, or it did at least, for the overwhelming majority of human history.

Over the past few decades, however, the digital economy has turned this notion of an exclusively physical trade on its head. In the 21st century, trade looks like online shopping, virtual books, web-streamed films, and – in the world of modern manufactured goods – global supply chains supported by huge and continuous flows of data across borders. Our means of making payments has shifted from over-the counter transactions to check-depositing apps, online credit card transfers, and Venmo. Most recently, currency itself is moving towards the digital realm, with Bitcoin and other virtual currencies.

Both the United States and the European Union are committed to a robust transatlantic digital marketplace that sparks innovation, fuels economic growth, and allows for the freedom of expression and the free flow of information across borders. Cross-border data flows between the U.S. and Europe, at about 15 terabits per second (that’s a 1 with 12 zeros after it!), are the highest in the world – 50 percent higher than the data flows between the U.S. and Asia.

Digital Image

In addition to being each other’s largest trading partners for digitally deliverable services, the U.S. and the EU are also the two largest net exporters of these services to the world. Furthermore, demonstrating the interconnectedness of our economies, 53 percent of digitally deliverable services imported from the U.S. (including consulting, engineering, design, and financial services) were used in the production of EU exports, and 62 percent  of digitally deliverable services imported from the EU were incorporated into U.S. exports. With the rapid growth in mobile computing, the Internet of Things, Big Data analytics, and cloud computing, those data flows are projected to grow substantially over the next decade, to the benefit of new digital companies, established industries, consumers, researchers, and governments on both sides of the Atlantic.

In April, I had the opportunity to participate in the thirteenth annual meeting of the U.S – EU Information Society Dialogue, a summit that provides a platform for the U.S. and the EU to collaborate in developing policies to grow the digital economy. In this dialogue, we held open and vibrant discussions on topics including the EU Digital Single Market strategy, support for innovation, web-entrepreneurship and digital skills, net neutrality, the data-driven economy, and Internet governance.

During this meeting, we compared notes on our evolving policies regarding net neutrality and agreed that we share the same underlying approaches and intent in safeguarding an open Internet. We committed to exploring opportunities for enhanced collaboration and information sharing, including in the area of standards development, as well as expanding our cooperation to support an inclusive, open, and multi-stakeholder approach to Internet governance.

Most importantly, the U.S. and the EU recognize the tremendous benefits to society presented by the digital economy as an engine for economic growth and major advances in research, but also share a commitment to maintaining privacy and security. With these common values in mind, we look forward to continued joint efforts with our EU-partners as we work to further develop the global economy, allow more people around the world to connect and communicate, and protect their freedom online.

Join the conversation on twitter with #TalkingTrade

Talking Trade: Stories of the Transatlantic Exchange

This is the first post in a weeklong #TalkingTrade blog series on the current transatlantic trade relationship.

By Allison Aaronson, Public Affairs Intern at the U.S. Mission to the EU

The Brussels EU bubble is a city that speaks 24 languages officially and wonk universally, where Eurocrats reign supreme and “alphabet soup” is as much a part of the local cuisine as waffles and fries. Of course, I say all of this lovingly. This summer, I have the privilege of interning in the Public Affairs section at the U.S. Mission to the EU, and so this city of acronyms, suits, and minute details has become my temporary home.

Featured imageIf there is one acronym I cannot get out of my head, it is most certainly T-TIP, short for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. T-TIP is often printed in bold on the front pages of newspapers (in 24 languages of course) and graffitied on city walls around Brussels. I wouldn’t be surprised if the hashtag was trending on twitter. While it is natural to focus on the current negotiations and consider what a final agreement will entail, it is also worth exploring the substantial existing transatlantic trade relationship that will serve as T-TIP’s foundation.

With or without T-TIP, the U.S.-EU economic relationship is already the world’s largest, accounting for one third of total goods and services trade and nearly half of global economic output  The United States invested €313 billion in the EU during 2013, making it by far the largest foreign investor, and the EU has long been the largest foreign investor in the United States. Most importantly, transatlantic trade contributes largely to the well-being of our citizens, supporting over 13 million jobs on both sides of the Atlantic. The U.S.-EU relationship also furthers a host of more intangible benefits, such as perspective-building educational exchanges that regularly lead to innovative and fruitful collaborative efforts.

Ambassador Gardner likes to say that T-TIP is evolution, not revolution. Over the next few days, we are going to dive into this phrase and demonstrate how the U.S. – EU trade relationship is already highly integrated. Our experts here at USEU will weigh in on the current situation in a variety of sectors, taking a look at agricultural, digital, pharmaceutical, and services trade.

Join the conversation on twitter with #TalkingTrade

A New View of USEU: Lights, Camera, Action!

By Nile Johnson, Deputy Press Attaché at the U.S. Mission to the EU

Ambassador Gardner at a Charity event for Missing Children

Ambassador Gardner at a Charity event for Missing Children

As summer kicks off in Brussels, the USEU Public Affairs Social Media Team continues to engage our audience through a variety of press and social media platforms. This time around, we’re excited to have Ambassador Gardner involved in the action! We’re proud to share the first ever USEU Ambassador in Review video, a highlight reel of some of Ambassador Gardner’s most exciting and substantive public engagement events from the month of May. Ultimately, we hope to give the public a peek into the professional life of our Ambassador.

This video serves as not only an engagement platform, but also as reinforcement of the American commitment to U.S.-EU engagement. What better way to do this than through a video featuring our very own Ambassador? This time around, the video touches on the importance of the Atlantic Ocean, the transatlantic relationship, venture capital and entrepreneurship, the European University Institute’s State of the Union, and a series of other fantastic events that you’ll learn more about during the video.

The USEU Public Affairs Social Media Team successfully created the final product, thanks to the technical expertise of our colleague Laurens Vermeire under the guidance of U.S.-European Media Hub Director Mireille Zieseniss. We hope you’ll you have as much fun watching the video as our team had making it! Enjoy!

U.S. and EU Brainstorm Ways to Support Innovative, High-Growth Firms

By U.S. Ambassador to the EU Anthony Luzzatto Gardner

On May 5, I had the pleasure of hosting a U.S.-Europe Dialogue on Making Ventures Grow together with Candace Johnson, the President of EBAN, the European Business Angel Network. The event brought together public policy and private sector experts to discuss ways to expand and accelerate financing of high-growth ventures as a mechanism to spur entrepreneurship, economic growth, and job creation in Europe. U.S. Ambassador Gardner and European Commission Vice President Katainen at the U.S.-Europe Dialogue on Making Ventures Grow. Photo: USEUBruegel Senior Fellow Karen Wilson opened the dialogue, followed by two interactive discussion sessions moderated by Peter Spiegel of The Financial Times and Stephen Fidler of The Wall Street Journal.

The first discussion session on “Broadening Europe’s Capital Markets & Stimulating Alternative Financing” focused on what can be done at the EU level and by U.S. and European investors to broaden the financial instruments available to innovative, high-growth firms, facilitate the development of Europe’s debt and equity capital markets, and stimulate other forms of alternative financing. The second discussion session on “Facilitating the Growth of Ventures in Europe” centered on what can be done to support the scaling up of startups and innovative young firms, the further development of venture capital and angel investment, the role of U.S. and European corporations in facilitating the creation and scaling of startups, and what can be done to boost the flow of institutional investment into venture capital. U.S.-Europe Dialogue on Making Ventures Grow in Brussels on May 5, 2015. Photo: USEU

We discussed themes such as how to address regulatory and legal barriers to responsible risk-taking, the development of exit markets and entrepreneurial ecosystems in Europe, and the incentives needed to increase private investment, including by institutional investors. We also focused on the need to increase awareness and interest in entrepreneurship across Europe – particularly with young people – through education and mentoring.

European Commission Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen made keynote remarks and received a summary of the discussion conclusions from Karen Wilson. The event included 50 participants from leading American and European venture capital and private equity firms, angel investors and accelerators, stock exchanges, corporate venture funds from leading digital firms, and related foundations and associations, along with officials from the European Commission’s DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW), DG Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA), and DG Research and Innovation (DG RTD), the European Investment Fund, and the European Parliament.

I believe the event contributed positively to the broader discussion going on in the EU on how to increase jobs and growth in Europe, and provided useful input and feedback to the European Commission as it develops its proposal for a Capital Markets Union, among other efforts. The United States has an interest in a strong, prosperous Europe. It offers increased opportunities not only to build further on our robust economic relationship – the largest in the world – but also helps the United States and EU shape the character of the global economy as partners.

(Photo Album and Summary of Event)