As U.S. and EU negotiators meet this week for the 12th round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations in Brussels, manufacturers continue to press both sides to make substantial progress toward a comprehensive agreement that will eliminate barriers to trade and investment and set a high bar for the protection of innovation and property.
Among the key manufacturing priorities being discussed this week are regulatory cooperation and investment protections. On the regulatory component, manufacturers hope a final outcome will lead to the elimination or reduction of unnecessary regulatory barriers to trade, improved regulatory transparency and the establishment processes to address future regulatory differences. On investment, U.S. and EU negotiators are discussing for the first time the EU Commission’s new investor-state dispute settlement proposal. Any investment outcome in the TTIP talks must result in strong investor-state dispute settlement provisions and rock-solid guarantees on access and investment protection for all products and sectors.
Other NAM priorities include a TTIP agreement that increases market access by eliminating all industrial goods tariffs immediately upon implementation and sets in place a higher de minimis level to speed up small business shipments, provides strong intellectual property protection and enforcement including through state-of-the-art trade secret protection and enforcement and expands digital trade by maintaining open access for cross-border data flows.
Some are now asking whether the EU will take seriously any proposals made by the Obama administration in these and other areas with elections looming in the United States. Well, the same could be asked about the United States, with considerable uncertainty surrounding the June United Kingdom referendum on EU membership and next year’s elections in France and Germany. Both sides can point to myriad reasons why a deal can’t happen. In fact, we need to play up the reasons why a comprehensive deal must happen.
One reason is that while U.S. and EU tariffs are relatively low, the volume of transatlantic trade is so great that eliminating all tariffs could result in more than $10.5 billion of total duty savings, including reducing tariffs on U.S. exports by $6 billion, according to a Bloomberg Government report. Another point is that even a modest alignment of U.S. and EU regulatory standards and nontariff barriers could boost combined GDP by as much as $106 billion, according to a Johns Hopkins University report.
Sealing a comprehensive TTIP agreement that would unlock these benefits will require strong commitment and vision by leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. Let’s not let real and imagined obstacles prevent negotiators from rolling up their sleeves and making substantial progress in the coming weeks and months toward a truly comprehensive, transformative TTIP agreement.