- Category: Opinion
- Published on Friday, 11 October 2013 01:00
- Written by Robin Twyman
In January, when I arrived in Seattle as the new British Consul, I was given the mission to help businesses make the most of opportunities for trade and investment between Washington state and the UK. We are already major partners. UK investment in the Evergreen State is $2.6 billion, supporting over 13,000 jobs in the state. And Britain soaks up a lot of the state’s aerospace and software exports too, as well as hosting many Washington state headquartered companies.
There are some good reasons for this. Trade between the US and the UK flows relatively easily, and we share the same positive, innovative business culture. Our businesses are able to build on our complementary strengths in aerospace, biotech, clean tech and hi-tech. But there are still some barriers – like tariffs and regulatory differences – that prevent us from doing even more trade, building even more investment and creating even more jobs. Removing these barriers will be crucial if we are to succeed in using trade to boost our economies.
So the United States and the European Union (EU), of which the UK is a leading member, got together this summer to begin negotiating a deal to reduce or remove as many barriers as possible to transatlantic trade and investment. We are calling it the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: TTIP, for short.
Its potential is huge. Consider that the US and the EU are the two largest economies in the world, with a combined value of around $30 trillion, about half of global GDP. And that US-EU trade is worth $2.5 billion every day, one third of all world trade. A million jobs in the US depend on investment from the UK alone, and they tend to be good, well-paid jobs, with salaries way above the US average. Initial estimates were that an ambitious and comprehensive TTIP – covering goods, services, agriculture, government procurement, regulations and more – could unlock over $280 billion in economic gains on both sides of the Atlantic. What we didn’t know was how each individual US state would benefit.
Now the results are in. A study published in September (“TTIP and the Fifty States: Jobs and Growth from Coast to Coast”) found that TTIP could add more than 740,000 jobs to the US economy as a whole. That’s almost equivalent to the combined populations of Vancouver and Portland. The average American household stands to gain around $865 every year as a result of lower prices, more competition and higher average wages.
So what does this mean for Washington State? Well, this state already exports over $16 billion a year in goods and services to the EU. The study predicts that TTIP could boost Washington State’s exports to Europe by 25.8 percent, and add as many as 17,140 jobs here. Many of those gains will be in the state’s world-class aerospace and computer software sectors. But other industries could benefit, too, like motor vehicles and transportation. On the other side of the Columbia River, neighboring Oregon does well too, with exports to the EU likely to grow by 24.1 percent, boosting net employment by 8,880 jobs.
These numbers show that free trade is not just a random idea. Free trade and investment between the United States and Europe has tangible benefits, both for businesses and for hard-working people – a free stimulus with no taxpayers’ money required! And that’s why the Evergreen State has as much reason to be as excited about TTIP as Britain is.