TTIP Negotiations: A Summary of Round 10

Clearing the Path for Progress

The tenth round of TTIP negotiations took place in Brussels following key trade votes in the US Congress and European Parliament. Negotiators are hopeful a deal can be concluded before President Obama leaves office, but emphasized that they are committed to finalizing a quality agreement, rather than a politically expedient one.

Takeaways

Negotiations on regulatory cooperation continued. Similar to past rounds, negotiators spent significant time discussing the establishment of joint regulatory practices and cooperation in specific sectors. EU lead negotiator Ignacio García Bercero highlighted five potential areas of collaboration:

  • Determining a path forward to an agreement on regulatory best practices.
  • Constructing a framework for future cooperation between US and EU regulatory bodies.
  • Reaching agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures.
  • Finalizing an ambitious chapter on technical barriers to trade.
  • Enhancing compatibility in nine sectors, including pharmaceuticals, automobiles, and medical devices.

Negotiators exchanged offers in the services sector. The US proposal included access at the sub-federal level, but exempted certain sectors such as aviation.

  • Both sides reiterated that these offers exclude public services. The EU previously released a fact sheet on how public service will be protected in TTIP.

Negotiators also discussed the rules pillar of TTIP, making progress in the areas of market competition policy, state-to-state dispute settlement, and trade facilitation.

Negotiator readouts and stakeholder presentations continue to call attention to the importance of focusing on how TTIP can help small-and-medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

Potential Sticking Points

Negotiators did not discuss public procurement during this round.

  • The EU would like to create a “framework” for exchanging offers that include access at every level of government.

Negotiators also did not exchange or discuss second tariff offers, though they hope to present revised proposals in the next few months.

Talks on investment are still suspended as the EU determines how best to address the investorstate dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. The Commission is moving forward with its proposal on reforming ISDS now that it has completed the public consultation period and the European Parliament has outlined its priorities.

The EU would still like to include an energy chapter in TTIP, but US negotiators believe the market access chapter will sufficiently address access to energy markets.

On the Margins

At the Group of Seven (G7) meeting on June 7 – 8, leaders stated in the communiqué that they wish to see TTIP talks accelerate, potentially resulting in an outline of the agreement by the end of 2015.

Trade promotion authority (TPA) was signed into law by President Obama on June 29 after passing the House and Senate.

Luxembourg took over the EU Presidency on July 1 with ambitions to see TTIP talks feature prominently during its term.

The European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution on July 8 outlining priorities for TTIP negotiations with a vote of 436 to 241. The resolution included an amendment calling for an alternative mechanism to the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

Around 400 stakeholders participated in formal discussions with negotiators during the round.

The European Commission released a document debunking “The top 10 myths about TTIP”.

Next Steps

A political stock-taking session between USTR Ambassador Michael Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström will take place before the eleventh round.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled for October 19-23 in Miami, Florida.

Kara Sutton is project manager for legislative relations at the Washington, DC-based Bertelsmann Foundation. kara.sutton@bfna.org