- 10 December 2014
Public Program | Corporate Members' Lunch: "Business Opportunities of the Future Trade Agreement between the U.S. and the EU"
On December 10, Aspen Germany hosted its first Aspen Corporate Members’ Lunch, with the U.S. Embassy in Germany bringing Dr. Sharon T. Freeman, President of the All American Small Business Exporters Association, to Berlin to talk about “Business Opportunities of the Future Trade Agreement between the U.S. and the EU”. Dr. Freeman drew parallels between the original debate about NAFTA and today’s discussion about TTIP. Americans had been concerned about a loss of jobs and a decrease in standards, but in the end NAFTA had proven beneficial for the U.S. and their partners, as had all subsequent free-trade agreements. Small- and medium-sized enterprises could gain from TTIP both indirectly through supply chains and directly through tariff cuts and the harmonization of norms. A representative from the UK said that Europe would benefit from TTIP even more than the U.S. Dr. Freeman had noticed that Germans were discussing TTIP with more scrutiny than Americans. One participant explained the German skepticism by noting the concern that international treaties and their mechanisms undermine parliamentary decision-making, especially in the field of ISDS (investor-state dispute settlement). Another participant diagnosed a general fear of globalization and of delegating power to the EU. All European participants agreed that the political elites had lost large parts of public support regarding TTIP and that they needed to address the populace’s concerns. Otherwise, TTIP would be doomed. Dr. Freeman and a corporate member concluded that Europe and the U.S. were slowly losing their global relevance and should not miss TTIP as an opportunity to stand their ground as economic powers in the competition with China and other emerging powers.