EU, US negotiators push to complete TTIP deal in 2016
European and US negotiators for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal concluded their 13th round of talks in New York last week, with both sides reiterating their wishes to conclude an agreement this year, so long as it does not force a compromise on substance, the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD) has said on its website.
Meanwhile, a public debate has escalated over the TTIP's potential content, particularly in the wake of a “leak” of alleged trade deal texts by a Greenpeace.
The US has been pushing to reach a completed deal this year if possible before President Barack Obama leaves office. Ratification, however, is not expected in 2016, even if an agreement is concluded.
At the level of market access, the two sides are aiming to make progress in TTIP under three main pillars: goods, services, and government procurement.
On goods, the US and EU exchanged second offers on tariffs last October, which they noted at the time had put them on “comparable” levels in terms of tariff line coverage.
Discussions on tariffs continued during this round, officials said, specifically on the 97 per cent of tariff lines covered in the latest offers.
“We had agreed earlier to eliminate tariffs on 97 per cent of tariff lines, and at this round, we worked to increase the number of those tariff lines that would be zeroed out upon entry into force of the agreement,” said US chief negotiator Dan Mullaney at the closing press conference.
EU chief negotiator Ignacio García Bercero confirmed that the three percent of tariff lines not covered in each side's offer – the “most sensitive” – were not discussed during the New York meeting.
The TTIP cast its shadow over the talks just days after the conclusion of the round, with the Netherlands branch of the Greenpeace environmental group releasing a series of documents which it claims are “leaked” versions of deal's consolidated texts, dated prior to this latest negotiating round. The release has fuelled a media frenzy in its
Greenpeace also made a series of allegations based on its analysis of the texts, arguing that the documents they have seen appear to indicate EU compromises on areas such as the “precautionary principle” and a lack of explicit mentions on climate protection.
In response, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström released a statement the same day which, she said, was needed to respond to some of the “misconceptions” that appear to exist about these “supposed leaks” being reported in media outlets.
She also pledged that the EU will never sign on to a trade deal that would require changes to laws on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or force less stringent environmental protections, nor would they limit the 28-nation bloc in making rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment.
“I am simply not in the business of lowering standards,” said Malmström.
However, in the wake of the leak, French President François Hollande said that, at this stage of the negotiations, TTIP would be unacceptable for his country. (SH)
Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India