The topic for the April 2nd International Business Network (IBN) event was “The EU/US Trade Agreement-New Opportunities and Challenges” but recent events involving Russia and the Ukraine were in the back of everyone’s mind.
The meeting took place at the Embassy Suites in Independence and we were glad to be there and see old friends like Ingrida Bublys, Honorary General Consul of the Republic of Lithuania; Maria Pujana from the Northeast Ohio Community Education Foundation; and Peter C. Andre de la Porte, Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. We visited for quite a while with Mr. de la Porte and had a good discussion about the Netherlands.
The speaker was Giulio Menato, Counselor Trade and Trade Negotiations from the Washington Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the USA. Mr. Menato explained that economic conditions in Europe were still wanting but generally on the upswing. He talked about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which is currently being negotiated. Hopefully it will increase trade and investment between the EU and the U.S. by delivering better reciprocal access to their markets, achieving greater regulatory compatibility between the EU and the U.S. and paving the way for setting global standards.
When Mr. Menato completed his presentation, Don Esarove, from the IBN Board of Directors, opened it up for questions by stating that it seems that “Europe is certainly alive and getting better”, the ultimate passage of the TTIP would be helpful to the U.S. and to Europe who are both “quite interested in each other” and that we are all “very worried about Russia.”
When asked how the situation in the Ukraine might affect the European Union, Mr. Menato reiterated support for the Ukraine and indicated sanctions against Russia might be instigated eventually. Someone who seemed very familiar with international relations spoke up at this time and said that that things in Europe are never “one act plays” instead they tend to drag on.
In spite of the current turmoil, Mr. Menato and most of the attendees seemed to be very optimistic about the passage and prospects of the TTIP. Yet everyone also seemed to be in agreement with Mr. Menato when he said that “both parties must have an extra commitment to compromise and work together constructively.”