Bruton hopes EU-US deal agreed during Irish presidency

Minister for Enterprise meets senior Obama aides to discuss transatlantic trade pact

Richard Bruton, Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, hopes the new EU-US free trade pact can be signed off during the Irish presidency of the EU council. Photograph: Alan Betson

Richard Bruton, Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, hopes the new EU-US free trade pact can be signed off during the Irish presidency of the EU council. Photograph: Alan Betson

Tue, Mar 12, 2013, 06:00


Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton hopes the new EU-US free trade pact can be signed off during the Irish presidency of the EU council. His comments came after meeting senior economic and trade advisers to President Obama in Washington yesterday.

Mr Bruton said he and Mike Froman, the deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, discussed the challenges facing both sides in creating the agreement at a meeting yesterday.

“The US are very upbeat about the opportunities and they are also working to a timescale that would make the ambition in Eu rope to get this signed off within our presidency,” he said.

Ireland ’s presidency of the EU council ends on June 30th.


‘Ball in our court’
Mr Bruton said that the “ball will be in our court” after the EU signs off on the mandate for the trade agreement at the EU college of commissioners today before going to the trade council on June 14th.

“There is high-level political momentum on both sides and we have the opportunity to orchestrate this across the [EU] trade ministers and get positive support for that,” said the Minister.

The Obama administration is expected to write to Congress “within days”, triggering a 90-day approval to kick-start formal negotiations on the trade deal.

The Minister estimated that the agreement was worth ¤100 billion in economic growth in terms of GDP on both sides of the Atlantic and could create more than one million jobs in Europe.

Mr Bruton also met the US trade representative and assistant to the president, ambassador Ron Kirk; and his deputy, Miriam Sapiro, in Washington yesterday.


‘Time to be ambitious’
“They said that now is the time to be ambitious,” said the Minister.

Mr Kirk, a former mayor of Dallas and a close friend of Mr Obama, is standing down from the position.

Mr Bruton stressed the importance of maintaining high-level political support for the EU-US deal and said that he expected the pact to be a topic of conversation during the visit of the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to the US next week to mark the St Patrick’s Day celebrations at the White House and on Capitol Hill.

“The ambition of this is substantially more than a traditional trade agreement where you are just doing your tariffs,” said Mr Bruton. “This is to align regulatory systems to get mutual recognition and that has huge opportunities for the corridor, which is already the biggest trading corridor in the world.”

Mr Bruton said the pact will create common compliance standards that could have “a very tangible opportunity” for the pharmaceutical and medical devices sectors in Ireland as well as for more general transatlantic trade.