U.S.-EU Talks Focus on Investment, Services, Regulatory Issues
The second round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership concluded Nov. 15 in Brussels after what U.S. and European Union officials said was a “very successful and productive” week. U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman said the talks “enabled us to probe more deeply into our respective approaches to specific trade and investment issues, and discuss areas of potential convergence in greater detail, including with respect to services, investment, and regulatory issues.” An EU press release states that the latter included regulatory coherence, technical barriers to trade and sectoral approaches. Energy and raw materials were also discussed.
Press reports pointed out that most of the 50+ U.S. officials participating in the Brussels talks were from agencies other than USTR, signaling Washington’s interest in tackling the regulatory barriers whose elimination observers say would be TTIP’s most economically meaningful achievement. The lead negotiators from the two sides said automobiles and pharmaceuticals are among the sectors with the best chance of reaching agreement. The U.S. also reportedly indicated a willingness to discuss financial service regulations, a shift in position that could augur well for efforts to reach compromise in other sensitive areas.
Negotiators in areas such as tariffs, environment and labor will continue to meet via videoconference over the next several weeks to make additional progress before the third round, which is scheduled for Dec. 16-20 in Washington, D.C.