This week, as the United States and European Union work on the 9th round of Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, the Foreign Trade Association (FTA) and the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) reiterate the importance of concluding this landmark agreement. (Click here to read our op-ed in The Hill in Washington, D.C.)

Representing brands, retailers, and importers based in the European Union and United States, respectively, FTA and USFIA agree that a milestone, 21st-century agreement between the European Union and United States could have many benefits for the fashion sector, and many other sectors, as well as our economies and people.

As the negotiators take a fresh look at the proposals on the table and make a plan to conclude an agreement, we urge them to consider the following facts about the negotiations. Keep reading, or download our statement (attached) for the facts and figures.

1. Already today, the EU-US trade relationship is a driving force for economic growth and a factor of success without that the full potential yet has been realized. Bilateral trade in goods climbed to more than $700 billion in 2014, double the level of 2000 [4] and already supports 13 million jobs in the European Union and United States [1]. This huge market accounts for more than 50 percent of the global GDP in terms of value and 40 percent in terms of purchasing power [4]. Regardless of the general favorable conditions, a variety of obstacles remain in place,which complicate trade and investment and hamper growth across the Atlantic. Against this background, the TTIP present a tremendous opportunity to achieve stronger market integration and to create even more jobs and growth. 

2. TTIP will be highly beneficial to both the US and EU economies by boosting growth and creating jobs. [6An ambitious agreement could create as many as 750,000 new jobs in the United States [2], and wages for skilled and less skilled workers in the EU could grow by roughly 0.5% [3]. The expansion of transatlantic commerce would add €119 billion to Europe’s economy and €95 billion to the United States’ economy each year [3]. This boost would contribute to long-term growth for all sectors, as well as long-term economic gains for families. In fact, American households (defined as a family of four) stand to gain approximately $865 annually, while European households stand to gain approximately $720 [2] (or €545 [3]) annually. 

3. The elimination of all tariffs and reduction of technical barriers would benefit all FTA and USFIA member companies based in the European Union and the United States. The European Union and United States both have more restrictive practices on textile, leather, and fashion products than most consumer goods. By eliminating tariffs and reducing technical barriers, our members would experience greater efficiencies and reduced costs of doing business, allowing them to sell more products globally, expand their operations, and create more jobs. [7

4. Given the size and influence of trade across the Atlantic, an agreement would contribute to the progressive strengthening of global rules, and the World Trade Organization. By joining together to harmonize regulations and reduce trade barriers, the European Union and United States have an opportunity to create uniform, high-standard regulations for the entire world on everything from product labeling, to product testing, to sustainability and safety in the global value chain. This would benefit companies, which are increasingly global, by reducing costs and delays at borders—in fact the cost of dealing with unnecessary bureaucracy can represent 10-25% of total business costs [3]. We believe TTIP also will set the stage for the World Trade Organization to expand the commitment to multilateral agreements. 

5. With strong clauses regarding regulatory cooperation, a centerpiece of a potential deal, the transatlantic pact could serve as a model for other agreements. When two of the largest economies and most important markets for exports come together to harmonize standards and regulations, other nations will get on board, too. And when they see the widespread benefits of an ambitious elimination of tariffs and reduction of barriers, other trading partners will likely follow suit, further eliminating trade barriers around the world. Moreover, harmonized industry standards across the Atlantic would enable third countries to switch to a single production line for manufactured goods exported to the US and EU.  

6. Only an ambitious and comprehensive TTIP will serve the common objective of promoting economic growth and a stronger mutual market integration. The final outcome of the negotiation process should fulfill the high expectations and go beyond the removal of tariffs and the harvest of “low hanging fruits.” The current tendency to extend the list of non-negotiable issues–beyond what was agreed in the mandates–is putting at risk the initial aim of a far-reaching agreement generating significant added value for the business community.  A “TTIP Light” agreement is in the interest of neither party. 

Along these lines, FTA and USFIA are highly supportive of the negotiations. In the light of the negative publicity surrounding the TTIP, especially in Europe, we have to encourage our governments to keep up their ambitions to negotiate a comprehensive agreement. The TTIP will result in an enormousbenefit for consumer and companies on both sides of the Atlantic. 

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The Foreign Trade Association (FTA) is the leading business association of European and international commerce that promotes the value of free trade. We bring together over 1,500 retailers, importers, brand companies, and national associations, with a combined turnover of more than 700 billion Euros, to improve the political and legal framework for trade in a sustainable way.

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The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) represents the fashion industry: textile and apparel brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers based in the United States and doing business globally. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USFIA works to eliminate the tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede the industry’s ability to trade freely and create economic opportunities in the United States and abroad.

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[4] The Center for Transatlantic Relations' The Transatlantic Economy 2015

[5] Moongate Associates' Analyzing the Value Chain for Apparel Designed in the United States & Manufactured Overseas


[6] While there is public debate about the potential economic, social and environmental effects resulting from TTIP, the vast majority of scientific studies and assessments comes to the finding that the benefits will by far exceed the negative consequences. 

[7] Today’s global value chains create quality jobs at home—and nearly 70 percent of the value added due to GVCs stays in the United States (Report by TTP Apparel Coalition 2013)  while 50-80 percent stays in Europe (Copenhagen Economics Study 2013)—so expanding trade will only create jobs.