Nearly a year after proclaiming a “fresh start” to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, U.S. and European Union officials acknowledged this week the need to “accelerate discussions and achieve progress in all areas under negotiation,” according to a European Commission press release. Meeting in Washington, D.C., EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman said contacts between negotiating teams will be intensified ahead of the next formal round in Miami in mid-October and that negotiators will be instructed to “exercise creativity and flexibility.” That approach will no doubt be supported by the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade, a group of major companies and business associations favoring TTIP that told Froman and Malmström in a letter this week that “too many red lines are being drawn” and that they should insist on “substantial progress on all issues – with significant movement from both sides – during next month’s round.”
The TTIP talks appear to have lagged as the U.S. has focused on concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Officials from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan met in San Francisco this week in an effort to find common ground on the TPP rules of origin for automobiles, one of a handful of issues yet to be resolved in the long-running talks. Froman said that there has been “steady progress” toward identifying potential compromises on these issues and that the U.S. is looking to “bring this to a close as soon as possible.” Chief negotiators will reportedly meet next week in Atlanta, followed by trade ministers a few days later, in an effort to resolve remaining differences and finalize an agreement.
In related news, USTR posted to its website this week an updated summary of the United States’ TPP negotiating objectives.
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