During the State of the Union Address on February 12, 2013, President Obama announced that the United States will launch comprehensive talks with the European Union regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership ("TTIP"). Under current practice, the Obama Administration will send written notice to Congress 90 days prior to the commencement of formal negotiations, and will consult with Congressional committees including the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, the two committees with primary jurisdiction over international trade matters. The European Union must also request a negotiating mandate from its Member states.
The TTIP announcement is the next step in a process that began in November 2011, when the United States and European Union established the High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth ("HLWG") to identify "policies and measures to increase U.S.-E.U. trade and investment to support mutually beneficial job creation, economic growth, and international competitiveness." Despite this coordinated effort, potential areas of dispute remain and key stakeholders will continue to aggressively pursue their interests as the process moves forward.
The HLWG final report includes several recommendations, including:
Market Access Goals
- Eliminate all duties on bilateral trade, eventually to include the "most sensitive tariffs" to both sides.
- Address long-standing market access barriers with binding commitments to liberalize "licensing and qualification requirements and procedures."
- Achieve investment liberalization and protection provisions.
- Include government procurement provisions to improve access to "all levels of government."
Regulations And Non-Tariff Barriers Goals
- Balance health, safety, and environmental protection with reduction of unnecessary costs and administrative delays.
Promote greater harmony in regulations.
- Sanitary and Phytosanitary ("SPS") agreement based upon World Trade Organization ("WTO") SPS Agreement so that any SPS measures "be based on science and international standards or scientific risk assessments, applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal, or plant life or health."
- Technical Barriers to Trade provisions to address testing and certification requirements.
- Regulatory improvements for goods and services.
Another TTIP ambition is to also strengthen "the multilateral trading system." Areas to be addressed in the negotiations include
- Intellectual Property Rights.
- Environment and Labor protections.
- Subsidies, state-owned enterprises, and export restrictions on raw materials, among others.
Announcement of planned TTIP negotiations results from long-term collaboration and initial discussions on key issues between the United States and the European Union. To meet the ambitious goals of the parties, TTIP negotiations must resolve many historic areas of dispute.