Last week, the EU and US met for the first round of negotiations of a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) Agreement. In statements following the closing of this round, chief negotiators for both sides confirmed that general discussions on TTIP architecture and objectives, as well as negotiating group talks on a wide range of areas, had laid the groundwork for future substantive negotiations and confirmed an overall high level of ambition for the agreement.
In preparation for the first round, the importance of TTIP was confirmed by the revelation of stakeholder visions and goals for the agreement. Most importantly, the EU's preliminary negotiating position was revealed through a leaked European Commission note published in the specialised press. This note – which EU sources confirm was intended for public distribution following the first negotiation round in an attempt at improved transparency – is of considerable interest to industry on both sides of the Atlantic, as it contains a set of initial position papers on regulatory convergence (including for the automotive, chemicals and pharmaceuticals sectors), Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues, trade and sustainable development matters, Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), competition rules, trade in raw materials and energy, along with a so-called "non-paper" (i.e. discussion draft) on public procurement.
In regard to US stakeholder vision and goals, the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade (BCTT), a coalition of large US firms and industry organisations advocating the creation of “an ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard trade and investment agreement between the United States and the European Union,” has recently issued several position papers on key areas for the ongoing TTIP negotiations. While the BCTT position papers do not represent US government official policy toward TTIP, such industry input informs US Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) negotiating positions and strategies.
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