U.S. and EU Negotiators Shift Priority for T-TIP Passage in 2016, but Remain Optimistic

U.S. and EU Negotiators Shift Priority for T-TIP Passage in 2016, but Remain Optimistic

Nikesh Patel, Executive Editor

The 15th round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) concluded recently in New York City on October 7, 2016.[1] The Partnership is a proposed bilateral trade agreement between the United States and European Union. Although public scrutiny in the U.S. has further increased on the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), negotiators appear to remain optimistic while also realizing T-TIP is unlikely to be prioritized in the “lame-duck” session of Congress at the end of this year.[2] In particular, Mr. Mullaney, the chief negotiator for the U.S., noted that both sides aim to continue to make progress in the coming months while admitting all parties expect TTIP negotiations to be halted primarily due to the U.S. elections.[3]

Although next steps remain unclear, negotiators concluded that “good progress” was made.[4] The progress related to resolving “conceptual and language differences” on specific areas and provisions of the proposed agreement.[5] Negotiators noted several examples of progress on issues arising from: customs and trade facilitation, good regulatory practices, and technical barriers to trade, regulatory compatibility in sectors such as cars, medicines, and medical devices, and sanitary measures relating to animal and plant health food safety.[6]

However, negotiations remain on an impasse on certain key issues. Some of the key issues, include:  (1) agricultural tariffs and geographical indications on food products, (2) intellectual property rights, (3) data protection, and (4) government procurement.[7]  The U.S. and E.U. subsequently acknowledged the negotiations will continue into 2017, under a new U.S. administration and Congress.[8] As public scrutiny and skepticism on T-TIP further enhances, Mullaney declared, “I want to emphasize that the United States remains fully engaged in these negotiations and is as committed as ever to their success” and further added, “[w]e remain ready to move forward on an agreement that is in our mutual economic interest.”[9]

In conclusion, it was unclear on when another round is to be scheduled and what the plan is for meetings either before or after the U.S. Presidential election on November 8, 2016.[10] However, as public criticism on TPP and T-TIP continue, U.S. negotiators appear to be optimistic on T-TIP moving forward.

[1] Stacy A. Swanson, TPP in Congress, TTIP, Miscellaneous Tariff Bill: Trade Talk Week in Review 9 October 2016, Nat’l Rev. (Oct. 13, 2016), http://www.natlawreview.com/article/tpp-congress-ttip-miscellaneous-tariff-bill-trade-talk-week-review-9-october-2016.

[2] Id. See generally, Carlo Motta, TTIP is Not Dead as of Yet, the 15th Round of Negotiations in New York Shouts, Eur. Sting (Oct. 11, 2016), https://europeansting.com/2016/10/11/ttip-is-not-dead-as-of-yet-the-15th-round-of-negotiations-in-new-york-shouts/.

[3] Iana Dreyer, EU, US Negotiators Officially Drop Aim of Concluding TTIP in 2016, Euractiv (Oct. 10, 2016), https://www.euractiv.com/section/trade-society/news/eu-us-negotiators-officially-drop-aim-of-concluding-ttip-in-2016/.

[4] Swanson, supra note 1.

[5] Chris Gillis, U.S., EU Trade Negotiators Wrap up Latest Round of T-TIP Talks, Am. Shipper (Oct. 10, 2016), http://www.americanshipper.com/main/news/us-eu-trade-negotiators-wrap-up-latest-round-of-tt-65632.aspx?taxonomy=Markets#hide.

[6] Id. See also, TTIP Negotiators Conclude Fifteenth Round, Pledge to Push Forward, ICTSD (Oct. 13. 2016), http://www.ictsd.org/bridges-news/bridges/news/ttip-negotiators-conclude-fifteenth-round-pledge-to-push-forward.

[7] Swanson, supra note 1.

[8] Id.

[9] TTIP Negotiators, supra note 6.

[10] Id.