Brussels/Washington - The Foreign Trade Association (FTA) and the United States Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel (USA-ITA) jointly welcome the mandate to begin the negotiations of the United States and European Union Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP), which the Foreign Affairs Council of the EU approved on Friday, June 14. FTA represents brands, retailers, and importers based in Europe, and USA-ITA represents apparel brands, retailers, and importers based in the United States. Both organizations support the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers between the U.S. and EU through this agreement.

Transatlantic commerce is a major driving force of the global economy with trade in goods between the US and the EU, accounting for more than a quarter of worldwide flow of goods. Such a deal would give a strong signal that the US and EU are bound to the principles of free and open trade and they are eager to prevent protectionist policies to gain ground. We hope that the economic dynamic of a transatlantic free trade area – combined with its symbolic influence – would also increase pressure on WTO members to revive multilateral negotiations, to seek ways to conclude the Doha Development Round, and to promote the implementation of transparency and non-discrimination rules at a multilateral level.
FTA Director General Jan Eggert said, “FTA is keen to see all duties on imports and exports phased out, and looks forward to seeing the untapped potential between these two major trading blocs realized as a result.” He added, “the prospect of a comprehensive transatlantic trade and investment agreement is a window of opportunity to tackle remaining obstacles that unnecessarily hamper trade, affecting growth generally, and diverting company resources.”
USA-ITA President Julia K. Hughes agreed, “members of FTA and USA-ITA are active globally with significant business interests in both the U.S. and EU,” she said. “It’s important to note that USA-ITA members don’t simply import products from Europe; they increasingly sell their products in Europe, too, making the TTIP critical to U.S. imports, exports, and job creation.”
FTA and USA-ITA agree that the negotiations should address tariff barriers as well as non-tariff, technical, and administrative barriers that could be eliminated through regulatory convergence. The average EU tariff on apparel is 12% and the average US tariff on apparel is 15%. These duties should nonetheless be phased out as they impact company profit margins in the current economic climate. Textiles, apparel and footwear remain some of the highest tariffs and the elimination of these barriers are a top priority in the TTIP.  FTA and USA-ITA also hope the U.S. and EU will focus on non-tariff barriers, including reconciling classification rules and quality standards.
As advocates of free trade, FTA and USA-ITA members welcome the level of ambition and comprehensiveness of the proposed agreement and look forward to working together to further open trade between these critical markets.

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For further information, please contact: 
Philippe Vandendaele
FTA Managing Director Public Affairs
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Direct tel: + 32 2 739 48 37

Samantha Sault
USA-ITA Communications Director
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Direct tel: +1 202 419 0474
About FTA
FTA’s mission is to promote the values of free and sustainable trade for its members within Europe and worldwide. The FTA strives for a liberal international framework for trade and is dedicated to improving the international supply chain in terms of corporate responsibility. 
As an association of more than 1,200 European and international retailers, importers, brand companies and national associations, with a total turnover of more than 600 billion Euros, the FTA represents companies of all types and all sizes from more than 22 countries, including fashion brands, departments stores, chain of supermarkets, apparel, discount and online.

The United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) was established in January 1989 by nine companies with a vision to create a unified voice for textile and apparel importers across the country. USA-ITA provides education, information, and advocacy to executives active in textile and apparel sourcing, importing, compliance, and logistics. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USA-ITA represents the needs of American retailers, brands and importers, as well as related service providers, with the objective to remove barriers to business and to trade.