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Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agreement Subject of USTR Inquiry

Monday, April 01, 2013
By Shawn McCausland
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative is gathering public input on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the European Union, including U.S. interests and priorities, to help it develop U.S. negotiating positions. Written comments are due no later than May 10 and a hearing will be held May 29-30 in Washington, D.C. USTR has also asked the International Trade Commission to evaluate the probable economic effects of the TTIP, and an announcement on the initiation of that investigation is expected soon.

Comments submitted to USTR may address the reduction or elimination of tariffs or non-tariff barriers on any articles provided for in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States that are products of the EU, any concession that should be sought by the U.S. or any other matter relevant to the proposed agreement. Comments are especially sought on the following.

- general and product-specific negotiating objectives

- economic costs and benefits to U.S. producers and consumers of the removal of tariffs and the removal or reduction of non-tariff barriers

- the treatment of specific goods (described by HTSUS numbers), including product-specific import or export interests or barriers, experience with particular measures that should be addressed, and approaches to tariff negotiations, including recommended staging and ways to

address export priorities and import sensitivities

- the adequacy of existing customs measures to ensure that duty rates under the TTIP apply only to goods eligible to receive such treatment

- appropriate rules of origin

- existing sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade that should be addressed

- opportunities for greater transatlantic regulatory compatibility without diminishing the ability to continue to meet legitimate regulatory objectives (e.g., with respect to health, safety and the environment) as well as which sectors should be the focus of such efforts

- opportunities to reduce unnecessary costs and administrative delays stemming from regulatory differences, including how that could be achieved in a particular economic sector

- opportunities to enhance customs cooperation, ensure the transparent, efficient and predictable conduct of customs operations, and ensure that customs measures are not applied in a manner that creates unwarranted procedural obstacles to trade

- relevant services, electronic commerce, cross-border data flow, investment, competition, government procurement, labor, environmental, transparency and anticorruption, and intellectual property rights issues that should be addressed

- new principles or disciplines addressing emerging challenges in international trade that should be pursued in the negotiations; e.g., with respect to state-owned enterprises, “localization” barriers to trade, and other developments on which the two sides may share similar concerns

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