Introduction

On March 20, the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) notified Congress of the Administration’s intention to enter into negotiations with the European Union (EU) for a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreement.

Under the 1974 Trade Act, it is required that any interested person be given the opportunity to provide his or her views regarding any matters related to the proposed act before the initiation of such negotiations. On April 1, the USTR issued a notice of a public hearing on the issue and a request for comments.

Process

The TTIP process begins with the USTR’s request for comments from interested persons which can be must be submitted by midnight May 10, 2013. It is strongly suggested that all comments are submitted electronically here. Additionally, those parties wishing to testify at a public hearing scheduled for May 29-30 must provide in writing their intention as well as a summary of their testimony by midnight May 10, 2013.

According to the notice, comments should focus on the reduction or elimination of tariffs or non-tariff barriers on any article provided for in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) that are EU products, concessions that should be sought in negotiations by the United States, as well as any other matter relevant to the proposed agreement. Particular industries that would be significantly impacted by reduced or eliminated tariffs between the United States and European Union include the automotive, agricultural, and apparel industries. In addition, although the EU accounts for a relatively small percentage of footwear imports, the domestic footwear manufacturing industry has expressed concern about the possibility of tariff reductions on competitive imported products. A specific list of areas of interest to the USTR can be found here.

Background

Arent Fox regards this trade negotiation as a development of the highest significance for the economic policy of the United States. As recommended in the Final Report of the United States-European Union High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth (HLWG), the US and EU leadership are expected to pursue negotiations on a comprehensive, ambitious agreement that will stimulate the refinement of global trade rules, while embracing a broad range of bilateral trade and investment issues. These are expected to encompass three broad uses: market access, regulatory issues and non-tariff barriers, and rules addressing shared global trade challenges.