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Opening Remarks by U.S. and EU Chief Negotiators for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Round Nine Press Conference

Opening Remarks by U.S. and EU Chief Negotiators for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) Round Nine Press Conference

April 24, 2015
New York, NY

*As Delivered*

Opening Remarks by Dan Mullaney, United States T-TIP Chief Negotiator 

"Thank you very much, Trevor, and thank you all for coming out here today to have this briefing of the 9th round of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, or T-TIP.  We’re very pleased to host our European colleagues here today, this week, in New York.  This is the first time that the United States has hosted a T-TIP round outside of Washington, D.C., and we did this in part so that we could get some new voices, fresh faces, and also to open the door to new media outlets and reporters, and I think we’ve succeeded in both of these goals.  And in fact, we paused our talks yesterday for several hours to hear from many of those stakeholders, and I think I can speak for both Ignacio and myself when I say that we find the presentations we heard yesterday useful, as was the opportunity for our negotiators to discuss ideas with representatives from a wide range of stakeholder interests. 

"This type of engagement has, in fact, profoundly shaped our T-TIP negotiating objectives and continues to guide us as we move forward in these negotiations.  For example, we’ve heard the concern that this agreement should not require privatization of public services and that it should not limit the ability of governments to regulate these services – for example, to protect consumers, to protect the environment, and health, and safety. 

"Last month, in response to these concerns, Ambassador Froman and the Trade Commissioner Malmström issued a joint public statement confirming that the United States and the European Union in their trade agreements, including in T-TIP, do not prevent governments at any level from providing or supporting services in areas such as water, education, health, and social services, nor do they impede the ability of governments to adopt or maintain regulations to assure a high quality of services and to protect important public interest objectives, such as the protection of health, safety, or the environment.  They also noted the important complementary function that the private sector can play in such areas. 

"Before I get into the details of this week’s talks, I wanted to take a moment to recall why we’re here, because as interested citizens and as, in fact, the negotiators themselves become increasingly and very appropriately focused on specific issues under discussion, it’s important to remind ourselves of just what is at stake in this negotiation. 

"We have in T-TIP the best opportunity in a generation to build upon the U.S.-EU economic relationship.  We already trade extensively and invest heavily in each other’s economy.  But we can make it easier. We can make sure that small business owners in Illinois and Italy can reach across the Atlantic to find new customers and to sell more.  We can reduce the number of forms that are required at the border.  We can reduce red tape.  We can reduce the bureaucracy.  And we can set an example for emerging economies that modern trade requires strong labor and environmental standards and that you don’t have to sacrifice standards to create opportunity. That is the best opportunity a modern trade agreement offers to our entrepreneurs, to our farmers, to our businesses, and to our consumers. 

"We also have an opportunity in this negotiation to send a message to the rest of the world.  First, we can reinforce the economic foundation of the world’s most important political and security relationship – the one on which global prosperity and stability most depend.  Second, we can ensure that the United States and the EU continue to provide the preeminent economic model for the global community.  The United States remains firmly committed to these negotiations and the critical goal endorsed by our leaders just late last year of making all possible progress towards an agreement this year. 

"And indeed, we made important progress this week in a number of key areas of the negotiations.  For example, we had very productive engagement on some of the key regulatory areas.  With respect to technical barriers to trade, we discussed ways in which we can reduce regulatory costs and burdens while continuing to achieve our respective high levels of consumer and environmental protection. 

"Our discussion included a review of a new U.S. proposal that would provide opportunities for U.S. exporters of products to the EU to have their products tested and certified in the United States and vice-versa.  This is one example of how in T-TIP we are seeking to reduce costs, eliminate duplicative testing requirements, and to set a model for third countries. 

"In regulatory coherence and transparency, we now have on the table a text that consolidates each side’s proposals, and our negotiators are working this week to find areas of potential convergence.  And in our discussion on sectors, negotiators and a range of regulators are at the table accomplishing the necessary technical work to achieve regulatory compatibility on a number of important sectors, including automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices.

"Our negotiators on customs and trade facilitation continued their important work on identifying ways to limit unnecessary delays at the border, to eliminate red tape, and to facilitate the movement of goods across borders.  Eliminating these types of barriers is not only important for streamlining the way exporters reach customers in Europe and in the United States, but also in pioneering new standards and practices for these procedures worldwide.  This is critical because it impacts every business that sells goods across the Atlantic, and in particular small and medium-sized enterprises. 

"The U.S. and EU experts on the environment had useful exchanges this week on fisheries issues, including on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing and how we might coordinate and enhance our cooperation on this and other environmental issues with shared FTA partners. 

"Our negotiators on small and medium-sized enterprises had the opportunity to meet this week with nearly 150 stakeholders, including dozens of U.S. and EU SMEs at the Sixth U.S.-EU Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Workshop in Washington, D.C.  In that workshop, SME executives from both sides of the Atlantic, together with U.S. and EU officials, discussed policy and business best practices in several areas, including barriers to trade that disproportionately impact small and medium-sized enterprises, and that could be addressed through the T-TIP negotiations. 

"They discussed the need for user-friendly information on U.S. and EU product and trade requirements.  They discussed significant growth of SME exports through e-commerce platforms, policies that can facilitate ecommerce, and SME finance instruments. 

"In services and investment, we are working toward the tabling of ambitious second service offers before the next round as a result of the very constructive inter-sessional discussions between our ministers last month in Brussels.  On tariffs, however, we are still working on a path forward to ambitious second tariff offers. 

"But across all negotiating groups, we’re looking for ways to accelerate progress for the remainder of the year and we anticipate holding the 10th round before the summer break.

"We were also reminded this week, however, that we have more work to do.  As Ambassador Froman mentioned on Wednesday, we were greatly disappointed by the European Commission’s April 22nd proposal to amend EU legislation on genetically engineered food and feed products.  Under the so-called opt-out proposal, EU member states would be permitted, individually, to ban the import or sale of biotech products that have been found to be safe for consumption and for the environment by EU scientific bodies.  We’re pleased that the commission is acting on longstanding biotech applications, but this does not remedy a proposal to allow EU member states to ban products found safe by Europe’s own scientists.  It’s hard to square this proposal with either the EU’s existing international obligations or their aspirations for a seamless internal market.  We’re still studying the proposal’s implications but we hope that the EU will move forward in a way that respects our decades-old rules on trade. 

"I’d like to close by quoting Vice President Biden who in Munich this past February summed up the significance of our undertaking by saying, 'Finalizing a deal like this is not easy, and will not be easy, but it’s necessary for our economies and our partnership to help shape the character of the global economy. T-TIP can strengthen the global trading system to the benefit of people everywhere.'

"Thank you very much, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions."

Opening Remarks by Ignacio Garcia-Bercero, European Union T-TIP Chief Negotiator 

"Good morning, and it’s a big pleasure to be here in New York, and I would like very much to thank Dan and the USTR team for their hospitality and for their very good organization of this round.  Before I deliver my statement about what the work that we have been doing during this week, I would like to say a few words to clarify the proposal that was adopted this week by the European Commission on the authorization of GMOs for food and feed.

"The first point which I would like to make is that the proposal changes nothing as regards the role that the commission has in authorizing the imports or putting in the market of GMO food and feed, on the basis of a risk assessment undertaken by the European Food Safety Agency.  The proposal give the possibility for – to member states to opt out from the authorization of GMO foods or feeds on the basis of legitimate reasons which have to be unconnected with risks to human or animal health or the to the environment.  It is a proposal which is fully consistent with our international obligations.  Pending consideration of the proposal and its approval, the commission will continue to apply the rules as they are now, and indeed I would like to indicate that a little bit earlier today, 19 GMOs pending applications have been approved by the European Commission.

"Now coming back to the business that we have been doing during this week, as Dan has indicated, this week has been dedicated to advancing our work on all the three areas of the negotiations; that is to say market access, regulatory issues, and rules.  Most of the negotiating teams have met during this week.  There have been a few exceptions.  For instance, our teams on services, competition, rules of origin, and sustainable development did not have physical meetings, but in a number of cases they have other ways of interacting through DVCs, phone conversations, and further work inter-sessionally preparing for the next round.

"I would like to underline that the discussion – in particular, the discussions that have been held this week on regulatory cooperation and on rules.  These are areas where the negotiators have been specifically tasked to make as much progress as possible so as to prepare a joint political review after the summer.  By enforcing regulatory cooperation in areas of shared interest and cutting overlapping and unnecessary red tape, we’re safeguarding the standards of protection that we deem necessary for our citizens.  It’s expected to bring significant benefits to regulators, to businesses, and above all, to citizens.  On regulatory issues, both have – sides have dedicated this week an enormous amount of time to detailed discussions, both on horizontal cooperation issues as well as nine specific sectors.  I think Dan has already mentioned them, so I will not repeat it.

"This is a time-consuming and resource-intensive exercise for regulators on both sides, but it is absolutely necessary.  So if we want to achieve the results and if we want to be sure that regulators have the confidence to rely on the work which is done by the other.

"On horizontal regulatory issues, detailed proposals have already been tabled from both sides in previous rounds.  The teams have now started the work of trying step by step to identifying common ground, bringing our proposals closer together.  The European Union objective on all horizontal chapters on regulatory issues, regulatory cooperation, TBT and SPS, is to find a practical framework for constructive cooperation between European and American regulators while fully respecting the regulatory procedures on both sides.

"Fostering trans-Atlantic regulatory cooperation would help our regulators to identify and make use of possibilities for cooperation in a given area if and only if both sides identified a mutual interest in doing so. 

"On sectors, regulators have also continued their detailed discussions aimed at identifying concrete areas where we can achieve greater regulatory compatibility in a number of sectors.  Just to give you a few examples:

"In the pharmaceutical sector, we have continued to review the scope to achieve mutual recognition of good manufacturing practices on the basis of intensive work which is being done by the regulators of both sides.

"In the car sector, work has intensified (inaudible) to look into the methodology and test cases to achieve equivalency of existing regulations. 

"On medical devices, experts have exchanged views among other issues on the potential mutual recognition of quality management system audits.

"We expect very much that regulators will intensify these technical exchanges in the next months, with a view to define in sufficient detail the regulatory outcomes that can be achieved in each of the nine sectors.

"This week we have also stepped up the work on the rules area.  We consider that an important element of T-TIP should be the development of rules not only to govern our bilateral trade relationship but also as a contribution to global rules and standards in areas such as competition, energy and raw materials, sustainable development, just to name a few.  We believe that if under T-TIP we are able to construct ambitious outcomes that hopefully go beyond what we have done in our previous trade agreements; we will continue to be significant players in the development of global rules in the 21st century.

"I would like to give you a few highlights of the work during this week.  A significant step forward has been taken this week on the issue of energy and raw materials.  Our teams have for the first time engaged extensively on all the elements that could be the surrogate of a specific energy and raw materials provisions in this agreement. 

"For instance, discussions have taken place about how T-TIP could contribute to nondiscriminatory and transparent third-party access to transport infrastructures for energy routes, pipelines, and electricity grids, and examine how we can further intensify our regulatory cooperation to promote energy efficiency.  We have not reached, of course, a conclusion about whether or not there should be a dedicated chapter on energy and raw materials in this agreement, but the detailed discussion held this week should contribute towards identifying the different common elements that could be a part of T-TIP, and that help us to take that decision at a later stage.

"Discussions have also continued this week on the issue on small and medium enterprises with a view to identify how SME can benefit from the T-TIP deal.  While SMEs stand to benefit from all areas that are being discussed, our negotiators have also given particular attention to the SME chapter on how this can also bring particular benefits for the SME community.  On the European side, we released this Monday a report based on a thorough survey of nearly 900 European SMEs which identifies perceived obstacles for SMEs participating in transatlantic trade.  This will be an important element in forming our negotiating position across all areas.  What these surveys again showed is that regulatory issues are of particular importance for SMEs.  And this week we also had more intensive discussions about those information tools that both sides could provide to SMEs within the context of the specific SME chapter.

"In the area of customs and trade facilitation, where we are working on the basis of a common consolidated text, we are building on the good progress made in previous rounds.  Negotiators have also discussed those elements that would allow enhanced cooperation between European and American custom officials, considering issues such as data requirements as an area where T-TIP could bring important benefit for our traders, including for SMEs.

"On sustainable development, experts continued their discussion via videoconference.  As Dan has already indicated, we had the opportunity to share with the United States our experiences on how to combat illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing.  The European Union is working towards presenting before the next negotiating round a textual proposal of sustainable development covering both labor and environmental aspects.  We believe that this is an area where we, the United States and the European Union, should be able to develop an ambitious state-of-the-art approach that goes beyond our existing trade agreements and takes, of course, into account the feedback that we have received from our stakeholders.

"I would also like to note that labor issues is an area where we cooperate with the United States.  We also cooperate on third-country issues, and earlier today we released a joint statement relating to the implementation of the Bangladesh compact, which shows our commitment to work cooperatively on labor-related matters.

"Finally, as regards the market access pillar, negotiators deepened their technical discussions aimed at reaching a better understanding of our respective tariff offers as well as on the issue of public procurement.  Let me clarify that the reason why our services team did not meet this week is because, as you know, Commissioner Malmström and Ambassador Froman reached a common understanding at their meeting on 20th March identifying a path forward for discussion on these areas. 

"On that basis, service negotiators are working towards an exchange of revised offers in advance of the next round.  Our revised services offers will also continue to reflect the commitment that was underlined in the joint statement issued on 20th March as regards public services.  And Dan also referred to it in his statement.

"I would like to thank you again – I would like to – sorry – to thank again all the stakeholders for the engagement during the stakeholder event.  As usual, there were many important ideas that were put forward, and we will be looking to these as the negotiations progress. 

"Let me finish by giving you some perspective about the overall process ahead of us.  As you know, earlier this year, negotiators received a clear political direction from Commissioner Malmström and Ambassador Froman to intensify our talks with a view to make as much progress as possible in 2015.  We have proceeded on that basis by organizing intercessional discussions in a number of areas as well as by scheduling three comprehensive negotiating rounds during the first half of this year.  We consider this work as an incremental step towards building the different components of this agreement. 

"After the summer period, technical discussions will continue on a regular basis, and we expect a political stock-taking early autumn, which will give us the steer for the next phase of the negotiations.

"Finally, let me use this opportunity to confirm that the next formal negotiating round will take place in Brussels before the summer break.  Thank you very much for your attention."