TTIP Talks Off to Positive Start; Next Round Slated for October
The U.S. and the European Union held the opening round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership July 8-12 in Washington, D.C. The talks primarily sought to establish a framework for future discussions on the full range of topics to be covered by the agreement, including investment, government procurement, cross-border services, textiles, rules of origin, energy and raw materials, legal issues, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, market access, dispute settlement, competition, trade facilitation, labor and the environment, regulatory issues, e-commerce, intellectual property rights, and small and medium-sized enterprises. The next round of talks is scheduled for the week of Oct. 7 in Brussels.
U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman outlined the ambition of the TTIP negotiations in an opening statement. “We have an opportunity to spur growth and to generate significant increases in the already substantial number of jobs supported by transatlantic trade and investment,” Froman said. “We have the opportunity to complement one of the greatest alliances of all time with an equally compelling economic relationship. And we have the opportunity to work together to establish and enforce international norms and standards that will help inform and strengthen the multilateral, rules-based trading system.”
Froman expressed confidence that the two sides will be able to complete the negotiations “on one tank of gas,” which is widely thought to mean the end of 2014. He cited the “strong political will at the highest levels on both sides of the Atlantic” and said he and EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht “will stay very closely engaged” in the talks to ensure that solutions to challenging issues are worked out. However, given the longstanding and entrenched nature of those issues, as well as the time it has taken both sides to negotiate and conclude other recent bilateral and regional trade pacts, there are many who believe the negotiations could take years.