Nordic Chambers unite for discussion on TTIP

The Nordic-American Chambers of Commerce in Washington united on February 5th for an event at the Finnish Embassy discussing the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.  This is the first time that all chambers have been involved in organizing such an event.

H. E. Ritva Koukku-Ronde, Ambassador of Finland to the United States, gave the opening remarks. Hiddo Houben, Head of the Trade Section of the European Union Delegation in Washington, D.C, and Assistant Chief Negotiator for the TTIP, Kate Kalutkiewicz, from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) joined panelists Ambassador Peter Taksoe-Jensen of Denmark, Mr. Olli-Pekka Heinonen, State Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister of Finland, and Mr. Jonathan Miller, Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs for Volvo Group, North America.

The speakers remarked on the change in perceptions over the last three to four years.  Until recently such an agreement as TTIP was viewed as impossible.  Now, there is cautious optimism that an agreement is achievable.  For all the Nordic countries, the US is an important trading partner.  In fact it is the third largest market for Denmark.  With TTIP, Denmark expects exports to grow by fourteen percent.

Harmonizing regulations will be an important part of the TTIP agenda.  In the automobile sector, harmonizing emission standards and safety regulations would remove an important barrier to increased trade.  This is just one example of how harmonization would aide trade.

TTIP is a dialogue between equal partners.  That is, the economies of the EU and the US are equal and both highly developed and regulated.  The European American relationship is balanced and greater market access will benefit both parties.  Therefore, it should be a win/win for both sides.

Both Norway and Iceland are non-EU members.  However, Minister Counselor Lars P. Henie from the Embassy of Norway and Deputy Chief of Mission Skafti Jónsson from the Embassy of Finland spoke to their countries’ perspective on the negotiations.  Although the majority of Norway’s trade is with the EU, they do have a positive view of TTIP and see it as a means of increasing world trade and securing competitiveness.  Norway’s concerns include the Jones Act in the shipping sector, the role of state owned companies, fishing and natural resources.

However, TTIP is viewed as a Strategic Initiative for a new world rather than just a trade agreement.

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