EU, U.S. continue talks to reduce trade barriers
Harmonizing regulatory rules would spur greater growth in trade than simply reducing tariffs, which average 2 percent to 3 percent, European Union Trade Commissioner Catherine Ashton said Monday in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.
The real barriers to trade are differences in regulatory approaches to product licensing, risk assessment rules and divergent standards. 'As such they are a kind of glass ceiling that prevent us from reaching the full potential of our relationship,' she said, according to a copy of her speech.
She urged U.S. and EU officials to create competition within their respective systems to develop best regulatory practices and then share the most efficient regulatory tools with each other. Upstream regulatory cooperation, she said, can help prevent trade disputes in the future.
'Just as we have a transatlantic market for goods we should have a transatlantic market for regulation,' Ashton said.
U.S. and EU trade in goods alone reached $643 billion last year.
'Regulatory convergence between the EU and the U.S. would also set an example to the rest of the world. If we don't try and find common cause on this difficult subject then others might choose their own standards and regulatory solutions, and that would lead to fragmented markets and increased costs for our businesses,' Ashton added.
Nascent sectors such as nanotechnology, in which both sides do not yet have diverging regulations, could serve as a model for early cooperation to achieve harmonization, the EU minister said.
Small success will 'gradually build confidence in each others' systems and regulatory approaches.'
The Transatlantic Economic Council, a joint forum created in 2007 to iron out regulatory differences, continued dialogue Tuesday on a number of regulatory fronts without achieving any concrete results.
U.S. and EU officials at the meeting, the fourth of its kind and the first under the Obama administration, said they hoped to finalize an agreement on mutual recognition of cargo security rules in time for the next meeting of the Joint Customs Cooperation Committee. The intent of mutual recognition is to minimize the adverse impact on trade for importers and exporters. ' Eric Kulisch