The EU and US today concluded the second round of week-long negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. A good atmosphere and the active involvement of regulators from both sides meant significant progress was made.
"I am glad to see that we are now fully back on track with the EU-US trade talks", said EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. "We are making good and steady progress across the broad range of issues we need to tackle to make our transatlantic business environment more efficient and effective whilst preserving the protections and rights already in place for consumers. Let's keep our eye on the prize: more jobs for people in Europe, more growth for the European economy."
Continuing from where they left off in the first round in July, negotiators discussed investment rules, trade in services, energy and raw materials, as well as a range of regulatory issues, including regulatory coherence, technical barriers to trade and sectoral approaches. Talks on public procurement took place before the planned October meeting, cancelled due to the US government shutdown.
In addition to the physical meetings in Brussels, video conferences took place covering plant health and hygiene measures, intellectual property rights, competition policy and small and medium enterprises. Video-conferences on tariffs and on sustainable development, including labour and environment, are planned for the coming weeks. A future meeting to discuss financial services regulation is scheduled in Brussels for 27 November.
Negotiators built on the discussions they started in the first round of talks in Washington in July. They made progress in identifying areas of common ground in order to start preparing for text-based discussions in rounds ahead.
On investment, discussions continued on comparing respective approaches to investment liberalisation and protection. There was a good degree of agreement on getting an ambitious deal while confirming the Parties' regulatory freedom to legislate in the public interest. The hope is to progress to detailed drafting of text in the rounds to come.
On services, the EU and US compared their respective approaches on cross-border services, financial services, telecommunications and e-commerce. They also began setting out their respective market access interests in various services sectors. They agreed to discuss regulatory cooperation in financial services within the next two weeks.
On regulatory issues, both sides agreed on the importance of horizontal rules and specific commitments in sectors. Negotiators, including regulatory experts, had a solid discussion on regulatory coherence and on possible elements for a chapter on technical barriers to trade going beyond WTO disciplines (so-called “TBT plus”). They held detailed talks on a number of sectors in which both the EU and the US are keen to enhance regulatory compatibility: medical devices, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, pesticides, information and communication technologies (ICT) and automobiles. More sectors may be discussed at the next round in December or in future rounds.
The next round of TTIP talks will take place in Washington DC in the week of 16 December meaning that, despite the postponement of the second round, the negotiations remain on track. After the December round, the two Parties will take stock, identify areas of convergence and areas where political guidance might be needed.
Video of press conference
Commissioner De Gucht's speech
See also TheCityUK comment, 18.11.13
The EP's press release states that Europe's economy could be boosted by €275 billion if the EU successfully concludes all current free trade talks. The EU's gross domestic product would then grow by 2.2 per cent, the equivalent of adding a country the size of Austria to the economy. Find out all the facts in the infographic [see link below].
With an annual gross domestic product exceeding €12 trillion, the EU is already the world's greatest economic power, but more trade could help a crisis-hit Europe to revitalise the economy and create new jobs.
Press release and infographic © European Parliament
See also: EU and US must restore trust to help trade talks, say MEPs and US congressmen, 27.11.13
© European Commission
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