Manufacturers welcome the President’s announcement during last night’s State of the Union address that the United States and European Union will launch formal trade agreement negotiations. We are pleased with the release of the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group’s (HLWG) final report, which calls for “a comprehensive agreement that addresses a broad range of bilateral trade and investment issues, including regulatory issues, and contributes to the development of global rules…”

The NAM has long supported the launch of formal trade talks between the United States and the EU, and previously submitted these comments to the OMB. Manufacturers will continue advocating for negotiations that result in the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, cutting the cost of doing business across the Atlantic, and increasing economic growth and employment in both the United States and EU.

The United States and the EU already have the world’s largest commercial relationship but major opportunities for increased trade, investment and cooperation remain. A trade-liberalizing agreement could demonstrate the strong leadership of the United States and the EU to the rest of the world and put both our economies in a stronger position in the global marketplace. Ultimately, this agreement can establish the real parameters of 21st century trade – addressing barriers to global supply chains and worldwide investment.

A key objective for the NAM in U.S.-EU negotiations is promoting regulatory cooperation and coordination in order to remove technical barriers to trade and reduce unnecessary divergence between EU and U.S. regulations. Eliminating redundancies and inconsistencies in regulations, standards, and conformity assessment and certification procedures will concretely lower the costs of doing business for manufacturers on both sides of the Atlantic, and create new market opportunities, thereby enhancing U.S. and EU competitiveness around the world. Such barriers not only limit market access and consumer choice, they substantially increase costs for U.S. and EU manufacturers, undermining their global competitiveness. A U.S.-EU agreement should eliminate duplicative and redundant technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures.

It is vital that U.S. and EU negotiators aim to promote compatibility with respect to standards, regulations and requirements in order to improve efficiency and remove barriers to trade and investment across the Atlantic. A final agreement must result in reduced regulatory costs, the elimination of tariffs, and mutual economic benefits and job creation for both economies. The benefits of such an agreement would be substantial for manufacturers both in the United States and the EU.

Jessica Lemos is director of international trade policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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