Bertelsmann Foundation Convenes TTIP Town Halls in California

WASHINGTON, DC/LOS ANGELES AND SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA (October 7, 2015) – The latest round of the Bertelsmann Foundation’s TTIP Town Hall series took place on September 17 and 18 in Los Angeles and San Diego, California.

A town hall event in Los Angeles featured a panel discussion with Kenneth Hyatt, deputy undersecretary for international trade at the U.S. Department of Commerce; Chris O’Connor, British consul general in Los Angeles; Peter Rondorf, minister and head of the economic department of the German Embassy in Washington and Marjorie Chorlins, vice president for European affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The panelists – each an expert on international trade and transatlantic relations – offered varying perspectives on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement and its potential impact in the United States, Europe and the rest of the world. They discussed the current high levels of trans-Atlantic trade and investment and described how the lowering of tariff- and non-tariff barriers and closer regulatory cooperation between the United States and the European Union would create thousands of jobs and increase GDP by tens of billions of dollars on both sides of the Atlantic. In a lively Q&A session, business leaders, local government officials and academics were particularly interested in what the agreement would mean for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the timeline for its full implementation. The panelists spent the final portion of the town hall networking and speaking one-on-one with stakeholders.

Together with Bertelsmann Foundation staff, Hyatt, Rondorf and Chorlins also met with officials of the Office of the Mayor of Los Angeles to learn about the city’s efforts to promote and facilitate international trade, and attended a lunch event with the Southern California District Export Council, where Hyatt gave a keynote address. They met with officials from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and senior representatives of several film and television studios for a candid conversation about TTIP, the audio visual sector and the European Union’s Digital Single Market.

On Friday, September 18, the group partnered with the San Diego German American Chamber of Commerce and the CaliBaja Mega-Region Initiative to host a Bertelsmann Foundation presentation on TTIP and a roundtable discussion with local business leaders and government officials in San Diego. The panelists laid out the potential benefits and costs of an ambitious TTIP agreement and answered questions about its content, timeline, and impact for Southern California. The Bertelsmann Foundation received positive feedback on all events and meetings and were encouraged to continue to engage government and business leaders across the country on the important opportunities that would result from deeper trans-Atlantic cooperation.

Samia Yakub is the Director of Communications at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, DC