The Future of Transatlantic Trade

David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States of America, joined the British American Business Council in Wilmington, Delaware for a special briefing.  Ambassador O’Sullivan spoke about current economic, political and social developments within the European Union as well as the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) – the world’s largest free trade agreement. Nine organizations including the Eurasian, French, German, Irish, Italian, and Swedish American Chambers of Commerce, in addition to the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, Select Greater Philadelphia, and the World Trade Center Delaware joined the BABC for this important discussion.  More than 125 attendees representing a diverse group of industry sectors learned about pressing global matters the European Union is currently focused on and how these issues will influence EU/US trading standards and practices.  Making a special guest appearance toward the end of the evening was Governor Jack Markell, who welcomed the Ambassador to the State, and remarked on Delaware’s important role in global commerce.

The iconic venue – the Atrium of Hercules Plaza – owned and managed by Paul McConnell and Scott Johnson of McConnell Johnson Real Estate LLC, allowed guests to make valuable business connections and hear an informative speech presented by the EU Ambassador.

It cannot go without mention – Ambassador O’Sullivan is a huge fan of TTIP.  His positive outlook is based upon years of economic theory, education and experience.  An agreement of this magnitude will grow economies and help break down some of the tariffs and other regulatory environment barriers.  Negotiators are making good progress as TTIP enters a twelfth round of negotiations.  According to Ambassador O’Sullivan, “this February marks the end of the middle game.  We are hoping to get to the end game and finish negotiations before the conclusion of the current US Administration.”  The US Presidential elections and their outcome will have an impact on the entire world; the migration challenge, and how we are dealing with it, particularly across Europe; the UK’s discussion of a potential ‘Brexit;’ and climate change that is altering the global geopolitical map, will all impact trade between the EU and the US.

Rhett Workman, BABC President, was the master of ceremonies.  He welcomed and introduced Ambassador O’Sullivan who assumed his current post in November 2014.  Prior to arriving in the United States, David O’Sullivan served as the Chief Operating Officer of the European External Action Service (EEAS). The EEAS supports the High Representative/Vice President of the European Commission, in fulfilling her mandate to ensure the consistency of the Union’s external action. The EEAS also assists the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission in the area of external relations.

David O’Sullivan was Director General for Trade from 2005 to 2010. Previously he was Secretary General of the European Commission from June 2000 to November 2005, Head of Cabinet of Commission President Romano Prodi and Director General for Education and Training.  He started his career in the Irish Foreign Ministry and spent four years in the Commission Delegation in Tokyo.   He also has extensive experience in EU social and employment policy. David O’Sullivan has a background in economics, graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and having completed post graduate studies at the College of Europe, Bruges.  He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Dublin Institute of Technology.  He is also a Member of the Consultative Board of the Institute for International Integration Studies at Trinity College, Dublin.  He is a visiting Professor at the European College of Parma and was awarded Alumnus of the Year 2013 by the College of Europe, Bruges.  In June 2014, David O’Sullivan was awarded the EU Transatlantic Business Award by the American Chamber of Commerce. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from his alma mater Trinity College, Dublin in December, 2014.  He is married with two children.  We were fortunate to welcome Ambassador O’Sullivan’s wife Agnes to Wilmington for this program.

Upon the conclusion of his remarks, Ambassador O’Sullivan graciously opened the meeting to audience questions.  Attendees asked about how TTIP might disrupt trade, who’s going to win, and who’s going to lose; what the effects on agriculture and aviation may be; border checks/controls; data privacy and the Safe Harbor Agreement, among other questions.  Overall, Ambassador O’Sullivan has a very positive outlook.  He believes everyone will win; the issue is who will do it better and at a lower cost.  With respect to border controls, this brings into question support and collaboration among the various European countries most inundated with migrant patterns.  The primary factor is the ability to process and monitor the migrants, and to determine if they are asylum or economic seekers.  Attendees were eager to ask more questions, but the session was cut short upon the arrival of Governor Markell who warmly welcomed Ambassador O’Sullivan back to Wilmington.  The Governor and the Ambassador met in mid-July 2015 to discuss EU business and trade with the State of Delaware.  Governor Markell was pleased Ambassador O’Sullivan was able to present his views on TTIP and global affairs to the international business community in the region.

Nearly 40 percent of the State’s exports go to European countries.  Ambassador O’Sullivan explained nearly “48 percent of all of Delaware’s exports to Europe are chemicals.  TTIP could give the First State quite a boost.  It would be a gain in exports of $900 million in chemicals; $50 million in electrical machinery; and approximately $75 million in other exports.”  He also added more than 2,000 jobs would be created as a result.  While the TTIP agreement is not largely known and debated here in the US, it is a polemic topic in Europe.  If there was one thing Ambassador O’Sullivan made clear by the conclusion of his remarks is that he is confident both trading blocks on either side of the Atlantic will experience the many benefits TTIP heralds.  And, he is confident TTIP will ultimately be approved.

The BABC is grateful for our relationship with the other European Chambers of Commerce, New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, Select Greater Philadelphia, and The World Trade Center Delaware.  We thank Ambassador O’Sullivan for his time and commitment to the region our Chapter serves.  Lastly, we could not host these informative and value-add programs without the generous support of program sponsors.  Special thanks to McConnell Johnson Real Estate LLC and Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Click here to view photos from the event

Links to press about Ambassador O’Sullivan’s Visit:

The EU Ambassador is coming to Wilmington and he wants to meet you

The EU Ambassador filled us in on trade, TTIP and what makes America cool

More about the EU

More about Ambassador David O’Sullivan


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