The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has released its negotiating objectives in 24 areas for a U.S. trade agreement with the European Union. USTR notes that it may pursue negotiations with the EU in stages but will only do so based on consultations with Congress.

(Click here for more information on the U.S.-EU talks. Click here to register for ST&R’s Jan. 22 webinar on this and other recent trade developments.)

According to USTR, the U.S. will seek to reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers and achieve fairer and more balanced trade with the EU, with which the U.S. ran a $151.4 billion deficit in goods trade in 2017.

With regard to trade in goods, the U.S. will seek to increase transparency in import and export licensing procedures and discipline import and export monopolies to prevent trade distortions. On industrial goods, objectives include comprehensive duty-free treatment, including for textile and apparel products; expanded market access for remanufactured goods exports; and greater regulatory compatibility to facilitate U.S. exports. On agricultural goods, goals include reducing or eliminating tariffs, reasonable adjustment periods for U.S. import-sensitive agricultural products, and specific commitments for trade in products developed through agricultural biotechnologies. (The EU has said it will not agree to include agricultural issues in the scope of the agreement.)

On customs and trade facilitation, the U.S. will seek to ensure that shipments are released immediately after determining compliance with applicable laws and regulations, to the greatest extent possible, and provide for new disciplines on the timing of release, automation, and use of guaranties. Additional objectives in this area include providing for streamlined and expedited customs treatment for express delivery shipments, providing for simplified customs procedures for low-value goods and a more reciprocal de minimis shipment value, and ensuring that the EU administers customs penalties in an impartial and transparent manner.

Other specific negotiating objectives set forth in USTR’s notification include ensuring that the EU avoids manipulating exchange rates to prevent effective balance of payments adjustment or to gain an unfair competitive advantage, providing a mechanism to take appropriate action if the EU negotiates an FTA with a non-market country (e.g., China), strengthening existing procedures and creating new procedures to address antidumping and countervailing duty evasion, and requiring the adoption or maintenance of requirements for companies to maintain accurate books and records to facilitate the detection and tracing of corrupt payments.

For more information on these negotiating objectives, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.

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