A U.S.-European Union working group is due to deliver by the end of June a preliminary report on ways to increase bilateral trade and investment. The joint High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth established in late 2011 was tasked with conducting a comprehensive review of existing trade barriers and making recommendations on policies to reduce or remove them, from enhanced regulatory cooperation to the negotiation of one or more bilateral trade agreements. Business groups have used the opportunity to reiterate their support for a transatlantic free trade agreement, but comments from U.S. and EU officials suggest that they may have to settle for something less ambitious.
In a May 22 speech to the London School of Economics and Political Science, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said that in the aftermath of the global economic downturn “a consensus has emerged on both sides of the Atlantic that we can – and we should – do even more to tap the full potential of this extraordinary relationship to boost our growth, support more and better jobs, and to help meet the competitive challenges of the coming decades.” As a result, he said, U.S. and EU negotiators “are working together to examine a wide range of possibilities, including: eliminating conventional barriers to trade in goods, such as tariffs and tariff-rate quotas; reducing barriers to trade in services and to transatlantic investment; promoting regulatory approaches that facilitate trade; reducing, eliminating or preventing in the first place behind-the-border barriers to trade in all categories; and developing rules and principles on other global issues that are of common concern.”
Kirk stated that any new transatlantic trade negotiation “would need to achieve full liberalization of market access for all categories of goods and expand transatlantic flows of services and investment” and should also “identify new approaches to non-tariff barriers” such as health- and safety-related measures. Specifically, he added, the U.S. would want any such agreement to be “at least as broad and ambitious” as existing U.S. trade agreements. He added that this approach could serve as a model for advancing the Doha Round or other multilateral trade liberalization negotiations by providing an alternative to “the negotiating dynamic that existed before.” Read the complete article here.
Source: STR Trade Report