Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Closer EU-US trade partnership? A consumer group outlook

Last February, agreements were made concerning the initiation of talks for a Transatlantic Trade and Investments Partnership, an EU-US agreement which should enhance the trade cooperation between the two partners. 
Since the cooperation is already tight and tariffs already very low, the main objective of the renewed agreement should be to tackle "non-tariff" barriers, namely regulatory hindrances. This means in particular "diverging regulatory systems (standards definitions notably), but also other non-tariff measures, such as those related to certain aspects of security or consumer protection."

This is with no surprise the main point of interest- and possibly concern- for consumer organisations: what kind of convergence can be reached between the two systems in terms of security regulations? Is a race to the bottom to be expected?

A joint EU-US consumer group, the "TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue" (TACD) group, released yesterday a reaction which individuates some fundamental issues which should not be too much affected by the treaty (which, in principle, would cover all subjects not explicitly excluded from negotiations):
- Safe Food;
- Emerging Technologies
- Financial Protections
- (limitations to) Intellectual Property Rights
- Privacy Rights
- Drugs and medical devices
- Energy and Climate Change
- Investor-State Dispute Resolution
- Competition Policy.

From a methodological point of view, the TACD expresses its hope that the negotiation process will be truly open to stakeholders. Will that happen? More moves are to be expected over the summer.

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