26th February 2014
The US wants to turn the tables on European Union business regulations by using the transatlantic trade deal to push for a radical shift in the way legislation is drafted.
US negotiators are pushing for greater rights for American companies to influence EU business regulations, the Financial Times reported. With tariffs between the two already low, the focus on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is around reducing unnecessary red tape and complications arising from two different regimes.
Michael Punke, US ambassador to the World Trade Organisation, told the newspaper that the aim is to cut down on regulatory “divergences” and ensure that “all interested stakeholders have input”.
For the US, the EU process seems opaque and its companies do not have enough say. American firms can be ignored by the EU, while comment periods on legislation in the US are used by European companies, creating an imbalance.
EU officials are thought to be cold to the TTIP being used to weaken regulations and protections for consumers.
But as US trade representative Michael Froman first outlined in a speech last September, the US is seeking nothing more than greater transparency.
“When we talk about regulation and standards, we are talking about how to bridge the divergences between two well-regulated markets, not about launching a broad deregulatory agenda,” he said.
“We are focused on reducing unnecessary costs that damage our collective competitiveness in an increasingly competitive global economy.”
For example, in certain sectors, products built in the US to an EU standard cannot be tested in the United States against that standard, but can only be certified in Europe.
Mr Froman’s speech also indicated the US position on transparency and engagement when drafting regulations. “Our standard-setting bodies include the participation of companies from Europe and around the world, yet the only bodies the EU recognises as producing international standards are those in which the EU member states cast the bulk of the votes,” he said.
According to Reuters, the EU is willing to lift import tariffs on 96 per cent of goods as part of the deal. A study last September from the EU said the TTIP could boost the 28-nation bloc’s economy by €120 billion - equivalent to 0.5 per cent of GDP.