EU-US partnership: New rules for a new era

The Obama Administration recently notified Congress that it intends to
negotiate a “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” (TTIP)
with the European Union and its 27 member states. I support those
negotiations because they provide a rare opportunity to strengthen our
economy and the rules of the transatlantic – and global – trading
system. It will also build upon what is already the largest economic
relationship in the world, accounting for about $2.7 billion in goods
and services traded each day.

Today, one third of all tariffs paid on U.S. exports to the world are paid to the EU. Those tariffs would be eliminated as a result of a successful TTIP. But the bigger issue is “non-tariff barriers.”  Too often in the past, EU and U.S. regulators have developed needlessly different regulations to achieve common objectives. Where possible, our negotiators should work to make those regulations more compatible, while still achieving the same high level of protections for our people. 

{mosads}In fact, by working more closely together, our regulators, in some cases, may be able to strengthen the enforcement of our high levels of protection. For example, according to a recent paper by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is currently responsible for inspecting more than 300,000 facilities in 150 countries – an almost overwhelming burden. The FDA could explore whether this regulatory burden can be shared with its EU counterparts, for example through exchanging inspection reports and information concerning public-health risks. 

But a successful TTIP negotiation will do more than simply deepen our trading relationship with Europe. An agreement between these two global leaders – together accounting for nearly half of world gross domestic product and 30 percent of world trade – also can begin to establish new rules and a new framework for global trade. Those rules should address critical 21st century issues, such as ensuring that exchange rates are not manipulated to gain unfair advantages in trade; that state-owned enterprises are not granted unfair advantages over private enterprises; that workers’ rights are respected and the environment is protected; and that intellectual-property rights are protected.

None of this will be easy. The list of transatlantic trade issues over the years is a long one, beginning with aircraft and audiovisual services, and bananas and beef. As anyone who has negotiated with European trade officials will tell you, this will be a very difficult process, and the success of the endeavor is far from certain at the outset. Success will require ingenuity from our negotiators, regulators and policymakers; it will require deep engagement at the highest levels of government, including the governments of the 27 EU member states; and it will require very close consultations with Congress and the European Parliament. This week, I and other members of the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee will meet with members of the International Trade

Committee of the European Parliament to begin our dialogue.

Our relationship with Europe is unlike any other. The TTIP should build upon the strength of that relationship and should reflect our many common objectives and values.

Rangel, a Democrat representing New York’s Upper Manhattan and northwest Bronx, is the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Trade on the House Ways and Means Committee and a member of the Joint Committee on Taxation.


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