USCC calls for quick launch of free trade talks with EU
By Joanna Sopinska | Tuesday 03 July 2012
The US Chamber of Commerce (USCC), representing American business associations and companies, has urged the EU and US authorities to start “as soon as possible” negotiations on a new agreement to liberalise trade and investment. In a letter, published on the Hill’s
Congressblog, Myron Brilliant, senior vice-president for international affairs at the USCC, applauded recent statements by EU and US leaders about the possible start of free trade talks (FTA). “The sooner this initiative gets off the ground, the better,” said Brilliant. He said the White House administration should launch the talks with the EU ahead of the presidential elections in November. “The administration should commit now to launching negotiations. We need growth, not more studies. We cannot let election cycles stand in the way,” argued Brilliant.
The call in favour of the EU-US free trade deal came a few days after EU leaders indicated 2013 as a potential date for the start of negotiations with the White House (see
Europolitics4455). Earlier, US President Barack Obama, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy acknowledged, in a joint statement, that a new comprehensive trade and investment agreement could be “key to strengthening growth and creating jobs” on both sides of the Atlantic. Their statement came following the publication of an interim report by the EU-US High-Level Working Group on Growth and Jobs, which listed powerful arguments in favour of a new bilateral trade agreement.
The USCC argues that the new EU-US free trade agreement should not only focus on eliminating tariffs, but also seek further liberalisation of services, as well as an enhancement of investment and greater regulatory convergence. “A transatlantic digital market, for instance, would help small businesses expand their European customer base. Similarly, improved access to government procurement would mean both new opportunities and better values for hard-pressed taxpayers,” said Brilliant in a letter. He said the so-called 'functional equivalence' system, where commodities and services approved for sale in one market could be purchased in the other, should cover not only such areas as aircraft, organic foods and supply chain security but also foods, autos, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and services, such as the financial industry.
On the EU side, the start of negotiations would require unanimity of all 27 member states. However, EU officials worry about launching negotiations that could drag on for years over some technical or agriculture-related issues without success. Provided this negative scenario does not come true and the EU and US manage to reach an agreement, the new deal would still need to be rubber-stamped by the European Parliament. Considering MEPs’ reluctance towards the free trade agreement with South Korea, signed in 2010, and the opening of FTA talks with Japan, achieving this might prove very difficult.