From Ms Ewa Björling, Mr Richard Bruton and others.

Sir, The high-level meeting between the EU Commission and the US Trade Representative on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which begins today, marks the shift from broad discussions toward an intensive and concrete phase of negotiations. It is more important than ever that we now keep our eyes on the prize. Neither the EU nor the US can afford to lose sight of the bigger picture and the strategic importance of the TTIP.

Talks on the TTIP provide a historic opportunity essential for the world’s two largest economies – the EU and the US – to further their relationship. To this end, the negotiations should be as comprehensive as possible.

Tariffs that are still an obstacle to transatlantic trade must be eliminated. And addressing unnecessary regulatory barriers will generate a substantial part of the benefits that we expect from the agreement, especially for our small and medium-sized enterprises.

The EU and the US should open up the transatlantic market, building on the standards we have set in the areas of environment, labour, security and health. That said, the negotiations will be broad and complex, which will require great constructiveness and flexibility on both sides to reach a balanced partnership agreement, for mutual and long-term sustainable benefit. In this we are aware of the benefits to and interests of exporters, workers, consumers, investors, farmers, entrepreneurs and environmentalists on both sides of the Atlantic and wider afield.

It is primarily by safeguarding multilateralism that we can promote internationalisation globally. The TTIP must be fully consistent with WTO rules and initiatives. In this we also believe the negotiations will have a positive impact on the entire world trade system.

Importantly, several EU and US trade partners have expressed interest in the TTIP. Studies show that the positive economic effects will go beyond the EU and US economies. We will work wholeheartedly for this to be an inclusive agreement.

We will also strive to make the process as transparent and open as possible. Our outreach activities will therefore involve all sections of society: the business sector, trade unions, consumer and environmental organisations and other stakeholders.

It is our firm belief that the TTIP will be able to unlock the full trade and investment potential between the EU and the US. This will strengthen our competitiveness, create jobs and spur growth. Together we will work intensively to achieve success.

Ewa Björling, Minister for Trade, Sweden

Richard Bruton, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Ireland

Carlo Calenda, Vice Minister for Trade, Italy

Jan Mládek, Minister of Industry and Trade, Czech Republic

Jaime García-Legaz Ponce, Secretary of State for Trade, Spain

Mogens Jensen, Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation, Denmark

Ian Livingston, Minister of State for Trade and Investment, UK

Lilianne Ploumen, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands

Alexander Stubb, Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Finland

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