By J. Liam Wasley, Chargé d’Affaires In Slovakia
This past month the United States and eleven Asia-Pacific trade partners took a significant step toward a landmark trade deal when together we concluded negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP links together 12 countries that represent nearly 40 percent of the world economy. Once implemented, the partnership will spur economic growth and enhance competitiveness. The TPP will ensure high standards on issues including enforceable labor and environmental provisions, a free and open Internet, protection of intellectual property rights, and transparency. It will further strengthen America’s economic and strategic relationships in the Asia-Pacific region long into the future.
Europe and the United States have a similar historic opportunity to bolster our strategic partnership through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). Building a stronger transatlantic economic partnership will help create jobs and fuel growth. Many barriers to trade and investment – including tariffs, red tape, and customs delays – now stand between businesses and their potential customers, hindering growth. Eliminating these barriers will allow European enterprises to more easily connect to U.S. consumers, and vice versa.
The U.S. and EU can set a standard for trade driven by our shared values. We can build on our joint commitment to strong labor rights, enforceable environmental protections, food that is safe for our families, and intellectual property rights. Like TPP, T-TIP has the potential to demonstrate to the world that you don’t have to sacrifice high standards to create opportunity.
Few economies stand to benefit more from these positive changes than Slovakia’s. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the heart of the Slovak economy, representing over 99 percent of all Slovak businesses and providing almost three quarters of all private sector jobs. But there is still room to grow. While Slovakia is a very open economy, with as much as 90 percent of GDP coming from exports, SMEs only account for approximately one quarter of exports. The latest statistics show that over 400 Slovak companies currently export goods to the United States. We want to see this number grow in the future.
We will continue working with our European partners to achieve an ambitious T-TIP agreement that meets our shared goals, increases trade and investment, and creates a more prosperous future on both sides of the Atlantic.