Vienna, 13 February 2013 – Following the speech by US President Barack Obama, Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger hopes that negotiations on a free trade area between Europe and the US will be initiated shortly.
“Our goal is to create a basis for such an agreement as soon as possible. Obama’s suggestion is the most important contribution we have seen in a long time to the debate as to how we can promote growth and employment.”
“An ambitious trade agenda is an important engine for growth and job creation”, Spindelegger continued. In this context, the Vice-Chancellor also referred to the conclusions of the last European Council from 7/8 February, during which the EU heads of state and government appealed to the Commission and the Council to immediately follow up on the recommendations of the EU-US High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth. Estimates show that a trade and investment agreement between the EU and the US could create profits of up to 100 billion Euros per year for both sides.
Spindelegger showed himself convinced that the Austrian economy in particular would benefit from an EU-US free trade agreement. After Germany and Italy, the US constitutes the third most important market for Austrian exports of goods. On the list of the most important Austrian import partners, the US is ranked sixth. Total investments of Austrian companies in the US lie at 5.5 billion Euros per year, with Austrian companies being particularly successful in the high-quality and technology segment where they supply parts to large-scale US industries.
“The time has come for us to commit to negotiations on a free trade agreement in order to succeed in binding the two largest economic areas in the world more closely together, for the benefit of the people on both sides”, Spindelegger stated.
In his State of the Union Address, Obama had in the night of Tuesday declared his willingness to initiate talks on a comprehensive trade and investment partnership with the EU. The idea of a free trade area between the two globally most important economic areas has been around for many years: “Progress in this question could lead to more growth without incurring new debts and create high-quality jobs on both sides of the Atlantic”, Spindelegger concluded.
Federal Ministry for
European and International Affairs
Tel.: ++43 (0) 50 1150-3320
Fax: ++43 (0) 50 1159-213