European Trade Head Optimistic on TTIP Progress
Despite the heated anti-free trade rhetoric from both Republican and Democratic presidential aspirants, negotiations to forge a sweeping U.S.-European free trade deal by the end of this year are advancing, at least from the European Union perspective.
During a recent visit to Washington, D.C. for meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the EU’s top trade official, Cecilia Malmstrom, stated that she was “determined” that both sides would be able to come to terms on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership’s (TTIP) most outstanding issues within the next few months.
“We are determined to try to push this, if possible, to finalize it, being aware that there will be a new administration that will have a word on it,” said Malmstrom. “If we are to finish this before the end of the year, of course we need to enter the end-game by the summer.”
The next rounds of negotiations are scheduled for April and July, with more informal meetings in May and June.
Issues that remain to be ironed out include major differences over U.S. Buy American government procurement standards, procedures for the resolution of investment disputes, and the EU’s protected geographic indicators that cover food and agricultural product names with a “tangible link” to a certain geographic area such as Parmesan cheese and Shetland wool.
No negotiations have taken place yet over the dispute resolution proposals, but Malmstrom said, “I don’t expect this to pass smoothly.”
Summing up her optimism and addressing the heated campaign rhetoric in the U.S., Malmstrom said, “Without entering into debate with one individual, I don’t share those arguments. In good trade agreements, there are a lot of economic advantages.”