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American Shipper

U.S., Europe making ‘real progress’ in T-TIP talks

United States and European Union trade negotiators on Monday wrapped up another round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks in Brussels, citing progress with negotiating the “nitty-gritty” of the trade agreement.

   United States and European Union trade negotiators on Monday wrapped up another round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) talks in Brussels, citing progress with negotiating the “nitty-gritty” of the trade agreement.
   “Our intensified engagement over the past few months – during which many of our negotiators have been in almost daily contact with their EU counterparts – has yielded real progress: We now have proposed text in the vast majority of the negotiating areas. And in many cases, we are already removing brackets and agreeing on wording,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement to the press.
   Two of the texts reviewed during this round revolve around labor and environmental objectives.
   “Just as in our previous trade agreements, we propose making adherence to labor and environmental standards enforceable in T-TIP, which we believe strengthens those protections,” USTR said. “We believe that T-TIP also has the potential to increase transatlantic cooperation in addressing labor and environmental challenges more generally, to the benefit of all of our citizens and people around the world.”
   The United States during this round put forward proposals on customs and trade facilitation, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and rules of origin. 
   “The goal of our efforts in these areas is to simplify customs procedures, to cut unnecessary red tape, to ensure that health and safety regulations are based on science and to make certain that the benefits of T-TIP go mainly to those who create value within the transatlantic area,” USTR said.
   In October, the United States and European Union had a second exchange of T-TIP tariff offers in which both sides agreed to liberalize 97 percent of their tariff lines, most of them immediately upon entry into force of the agreement. 
   “This is a good start, but the United States remains committed to the goal of eliminating transatlantic tariffs under T-TIP. We look forward to working with the European Union in the coming months to achieve that objective,” USTR said, adding focus will be placed on reducing phase-out timeframes for tariff lines not scheduled for immediate elimination.
   The U.S. and EU hope to finish T-TIP negotiations by the end of this year.
   “Our common goal is to reach by July an advanced stage of text consolidation across the board, narrowing down our differences to the most sensitive issues and putting us in a position potentially to complete the agreement in the second half of the year,” USTR said.

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