by N. Peter Kramer
Christoph Leitl is re-elected as President of EUROCHAMBRES for a new term (2020-22) during the 126th Plenary Assembly – Board of Directors that took place in Rome on October 9. He has been the President since January 2018.
‘Chambers of Commerce and Industry have a crucial role helping our businesses to strengthen Europe’s competitiveness’, Mr Leitl said, ‘I want to channel the knowledge, capacity and connectivity of the European Chamber network at EU level, in order to contribute to a positive agenda that creates opportunities for our entrepreneurs and our citizens’. ‘The Chambers are key to European political leaders realising their goals: innovation, employment, skills, education and bringing prosperity to the people. Politicians can define goals, but companies can realise them, and they need the support of Chambers to do so,’ he continued.
Mr Leitl’s mandate will focus on three main priorities. First, free and fair trade in a developed single market, with extending international trade agreements. Second, a better SME regulatory framework with less bureaucracy, access to skilled staff and help in digital transformation. And third, the EU as an innovative pioneer in addressing climate and environment challenges and a leader in implementing circular economy.
Concerns about new US tariffs after Boeing-Airbus WTO case
Earlier in the week, President Leitl saw with worry the prospects of tariffs resulting from the Boeing-Airbus case at the World Trade Organisation (WTO). EUROCHAMBRES is watching the situation carefully in terms of the likely impact on EU companies. ‘As a new European Commission takes office, EU-US economic relation are not off to the best start with the prospects of fresh US tariffs. The US actions result from a lawful WTO action, but a negotiated outcome between both sides is what business still expects’, said Mr. Leitl. He fears that after the WTO rulings, tariffs are likely to enter into force later in October, which would prompt an equal response from the EU regarding the EU’s win in their civil aircraft dispute at the WTO.
President Leitl recently visited the US, where he spoke with, among others, Bill Keating (Chair of the Europe subcommittee of the House), Daniel Mullaney (US Trade Representative for Europe), IMF Chief economist Gita Gopinath and World Bank VP Karin Finkelstone. The EU-US trade relationship is the most important trade and investment relationship in the world, says Mr Leitl and points out that, there is indeed an imbalance in the goods sector, as President Trump says, but looking at the total of goods, investments and services you see a nearly balanced situation, with the EU delivering more services to the US than vice versa.
Christoph Leitl emphasised in the US the importance to cooperate with the view to address common challenges, such as those posed by state capitalism. In his view, instead of trade disputes, the three largest economic powers in the world – the EU, the US and China - should sit together and reach an agreement.