The European Union's ambassador to the United States wrapped up a two-day stop in Oklahoma Wednesday as part of an outreach effort for a proposed free-trade agreement that would cover 800 million Americans and Europeans.
Ambassador Joao Vale de Almeida said the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being negotiated could be in place within the next few years. The agreement would eliminate tariffs and harmonize trading standards between the United States and the 28-country European Union.
“We share fundamental values and strategic goals,” Vale de Almeida said in a phone interview. “There's no better relationship than the U.S. and the EU. This would be the biggest free-trade area in the world, with 800 million consumers and representing 50 percent of the world's GDP (gross domestic product).”
Oklahoma could see its exports to the EU rise by 20 percent if the trade agreement was approved, Vale de Almeida said. Oklahoma exports totaled $6.58 billion in 2012, with more than 10 percent of those exports going to EU countries, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Negotiators held the third round of talks and policy presentations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in December. Any agreement would have to be ratified by Congress and approved by the EU.
Vale de Almeida visited with University of Oklahoma President David Boren and spoke to OU students and faculty on Tuesday in Norman.
Mitchell Smith, OU professor of international and area studies, said Vale de Almeida's talk focused on diplomatic and trade ties between the United States and the EU.