U.S-EU free trade negotiations. The United States and European Union announced during the G-8 Summit in Ireland that they would begin formal trade negotiations the week of July 8 in Washington.
U.S. and European Commission officials have been making preliminary plans for talks since the beginning of the year and the announcement follows final approval in recent days from the European Parliament.
Completion of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is expected to help reduce duties on both sides even further, but the real benefit should come from harmonizing regulatory standards and reducing red tape and non-tariff barriers that drive up the cost of trade, and make foreign investment difficult.
The United States and European Union have the largest economic relationship in the world, accounting for $5.3 trillion in trade and investment in 201. The European Union is the largest market for U.S. goods, with $458 billion in goods and services sold last year. U.S.-EU services trade represents, at $300 billion, about one-third of total U.S. services trade and nearly 10 percent of all world services trade.
Together, the United States and European Union account for 40 percent of global economic production and nearly a third of world trade. Any agreement could serve as a model for other large multilateral agreements that essentially stitch together trading blocs in a way intended by the failed Doha round of global trade negotiations.
Officials say they also want to develop new rules and principles for addressing intellectual property protection and state-owned enterprises, as well as market access.
Business groups universally hailed the start of the U.S.-EU trade talks.
“TTIP has the
capacity to provide a big boost to our competitiveness, economic growth, and
jobs here at home, and can jump-start other trade liberalization efforts at the
regional and multilateral levels,” Peter Robinson, president of the United States Council for International Business, said in a statement.
Express carrier UPS said ratification of a transatlantic free trade agreement could increase the company’s shipment volume by 131 million packages and support 24,000 jobs over 10 years.
“The U.S.-EU relationship is an important one, and establishing a TTIP agreement will only further expand market access, grow the U.S. economy, increase exports and create American jobs,” the National Foreign Trade Council said in a statement.
The Sierra Club said it’s worried that environmental and product safety safeguards may be compromised by a deal.
“No trade pact is better than a bad trade pact. With a Trans-Pacific trade pact in the works and a Transatlantic trade pact on deck, and so many aspects of our daily lives at risk, these deals must be done right – or not at all,” it said.
Some U.S. officials have talked about completing a deal within two years, but similar comprehensive agreements with South Korea and Singapore took four years to hammer out, trade consultants Sandler & Travis Trade Advisory Services said in a briefing note.
ICE director to step down. John Morton, the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will step down next month to join Capital One bank as senior vice president for compliance, he said in a memo to employees, according to the Washington Post and Reuters.
His departure comes as Congress debates an immigration reform bill, which is expected to contain measures to strengthen border security and dealing with illegal immigrants already in the country. It also leaves two of the largest agencies within the Department of Homeland Security without leadership appointed by the president. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been without a politically appointed commissioner for 18 months.
Conviction secured in counterfeit razor case. A Florida man was sentenced Thursday to 30 months customs followed by three years of supervised release for his role in a scheme to distribute fake Gillette Mach 3 razor blades to Meijer Stores in Michigan, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced.
Jeffrey Telsey was also ordered to pay more than $400,500 in restitution and a $25,000 fine.
His company, JCA Enterprises, was a “diverter” business that collected odd and leftover lots of health and beauty care products for resale to wholesalers and large retail outlets like Meijer. Mixed in with the legitimate business was counterfeit razor blades.
Homeland Security Investigations determined that Telsey obtained the fake merchandise from an importer in New Jersey who bought them from manufacturers in China. Proctor & Gamble, the owner of the Gillette brand, only makes the blades in Boston and Berlin.
Meijer Stores conducted a company-wide recall of Gillette razor blades to ensure that counterfeit products weren’t sold to its customers. – Eric Kulisch