EU ambassador visits Columbia, discusses importance of EU-U.S. partnership

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 | 8:53 p.m. CDT
The European Union's ambassador to the U.S., João Vale de Almeida, speaks at MU on Wednesday at the Reynolds Journalism Institute. Almeida visited the university to speak about the EU and the U.S. as they seek to transform their relationship through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. He emphasized the importance of continuing to build for peace, prosperity and security throughout the world.

COLUMBIA — João Vale de Almeida’s visit to the Missouri School of Journalism on Wednesday was his third attempt to come to Missouri.

In 2012, Vale de Almeida, the European Union's ambassador to the U.S., was ready to visit the Show-Me state but at the last moment had to go to Ohio instead to follow President Barack Obama during his presidential campaign. In February, a snow storm deterred the ambassador.

Missouri is the second state Vale de Almeida visited after attending the U.S.-EU Summit with President Barack Obama on March 26 in Brussels.

Vale de Almeida, 57, is visiting Missouri to present the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and highlight the mutual benefits of a stronger cooperation between the EU and the U.S.

TTIP has two main purposes: to drive economic growth and create jobs, Vale de Almeida said. The partnership's negotiators plan to reduce tariff barriers and standardize technical regulations and approval procedures, according to the European Commission website.

Although the U.S. and the EU already have the largest trade market in the world, investors and trade partners will earn more if they can pay less to trade — it's a win-win partnership, Vale de Almeida said.

It is our duty to consider what more the U.S. and the EU can do together, he added.

If the partnership is approved, Missouri exports could increase by 23 percent, which could help create up to 15,000 jobs in the state, Vale de Almeida said.

“If you want to understand Columbia, if you want to understand Missouri, you now have to understand the world,” he said during a 20-minute speech at the Reynolds Journalism Institute, which was followed by questions from the crowd of about 60 people.

The diplomatic tensions with Russia and the economic crisis in the EU were also discussed during the event

The EU ambassador wants to build the American political support he needs to make the TTIP a reality. Vale de Almeida was in Kansas on Tuesday and is meeting Gov. Jay Nixon on Thursday.

So far, both states have welcomed his ideas, he said.

“I am very surprised by such openness to Europe in Missouri,” Vale de Almeida said. “I’m optimistic about the position of the state.”

Supervising editor is Elise Schmelzer.

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