US invites comment on proposed US-EU trade agreement

01 April 2013 19:49  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US trade officials on Monday invited industry and other public comment on the proposed transatlantic trade agreement with the EU, saying that the planned deal could “achieve a substantial increase in transatlantic trade”.

The US Trade Representative (USTR) said that public comment and suggestions on how the trade agreement could be structured should be delivered to the USTR on or before 10 May.

In addition, the USTR said that a two-day public hearing on the parameters of a US-EU trade agreement will be held 29-30 May at the US International Trade Commission (USITC) in Washington, DC.

In his state of the union speech in February, President Barack Obama announced his intention to pursue a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU involving its 27 member nations.

On 20 March, the USTR formally notified Congress that it would enter into negotiations with the EU for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

In its invitation for public comment issued on Monday, the USTR said that the possibility of a trade deal was raised by Obama and European leaders during the November 2011 US-EU summit meeting in Washington.

The prospect of a broad US-EU trade agreement was welcomed by US chemicals manufacturers, who noted that European tariffs on chemical imports cost US producers more than $1bn (€780m) annually.

The USTR, part of the White House, said that comments on the proposed trade deal could address the reduction or elimination of tariffs, any concessions that the US should seek, general and product-specific negotiating objectives and improved regulatory compatibility between the US and EU.

Some in the US chemicals industry have expressed concern that greater harmonisation of US and EU regulations could allow Europe’s controversial programme for registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH) to migrate into the US regulatory environment.

USTR said that comments and the upcoming two-day public hearing also could address environmental and labour issues and protections for intellectual property rights (IPR). 

IPR security is a major concern of US chemical and plastics manufacturers.

The US and EU already have significant bilateral trade, which totalled nearly $646bn in 2012, including some $265.1bn in US exports to the EU bloc and $380.9bn in imports from the region.

Comments should be submitted online at the federal government’s central regulatory website and should cite docket number USTR-2013-0019.

($1 = €0.78)

Paul Hodges studies key influencers shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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