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Issues at the heart of EU-US free-trade talks
The European Union will try to overcome French resistance to free-trade talks with the United States and keep alive plans for a deal that could boost their struggling economies by dramatically increasing transatlantic business.
Below are some of the possible benefits from a proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and some of the issues to be resolved.
A comprehensive deal could boost the EU’s economy by 119 billion euros ($159 billion) per year, and the U.S. economy by 95 billion euros. That is equivalent to an extra 545 euros per EU household per year, and 655 euros for each U.S. family.The United States and the EU already have the largest trade and investment relationship in the world and a free-trade accord could eliminate remaining tariffs.A deal would increase U.S. access to the EU’s 500 million consumers. Europe is the second largest destination for U.S. exports. The EU is the biggest investor in the United States.Opening public tenders on both sides of the Atlantic would dramatically increase access for companies to bid for contracts. The EU’s public procurement market is worth 2 trillion euros, while in the United States it is about 560 billion euros.
Shared StandardA trade deal would aim to synchronize U.S. and European regulations in areas ranging from car air bags to drugs packaging, lowering the cost of doing transatlantic business.Negotiators will aim for regulatory compatibility in the chemical, automotive, pharmaceutical and medical appliances sectors.Negotiators will probably seek an ambitious agreement on plant and animal health, as well as food hygiene standards.Synchronizing rules on safety standards, certification processes and environmental regulations could mean savings of up to 12 billion euros annually for the European Union and 1.6 billion euros for the United States.Toughest Issues
France wants culture kept out of the negotiations, worried that its system of state support will not be shielded from Hollywood. The European Commission has proposed allowing EU members to keep subsidies and quotas for traditional media, but leave space for U.S. and European companies to compete in the Internet and digital areas.Europe’s regulations for artisan products such as cheese are more restrictive than in the United States, and European food and drinks producers are keen for U.S. producers to agree to their rules.U.S. lawmakers want Brussels to lower restrictions on genetically modified crops. But the EU trade commissioner says EU regulation will not change even if Brussels and Washington agree a free-trade deal.Europe wants to break open the closed U.S. maritime market, which requires transport of cargo between points in the United States to be carried by U.S.-flagged vessels that are at least 75 percent owned and crewed by U.S. citizens. (Reuters)
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