Agreement facilitates transatlantic trade and promotes closer
US-EU regulatory cooperation
WASHINGTON - U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick, EU
Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy and Irish Ambassador Noel Fahey today signed a mutual
recognition agreement (MRA) on marine equipment between the United States and the
European Community (EC). Ireland currently holds the rotating EU Presidency and Lamy and
Fahey signed on behalf of the European Community.
Current U.S.-EU trade in the initial products covered in the
agreement amounts to approximately $150-200 million annually. The agreement contemplates expanding
the product scope within the marine equipment sector, which is over $1 billion in annual
"The U.S.-EC Marine Equipment MRA represents an important new
mechanism to facilitate transatlantic trade and promote closer US-EU regulatory
cooperation. This agreement saves U.S. manufacturers of marine equipment the time and expense of
redundant product testing for the EU market, and also promotes our efforts to improve the quality of
international marine safety regulations," said Zoellick.
"Today's agreement is a clear example of our pragmatic approach to
tearing down barriers to transatlantic trade. Through the MRA we will facilitate trade in a
sector which represents EUR billion worth of EU-US trade. Regulatory cooperation between us is
the way forward to foster trade and investment. Now that that agreement on this item has
been reached we can focus on the remaining issues under our common Positive Economic Agenda," said
"The U.S. Coast Guard looks forward to working with the EU to
implement this important agreement to provide flexibility, opportunity, and cost savings to
shipbuilders, shipowners, and marine equipment manufacturers, while upholding the highest level
of marine safety," said Rear Admiral Thomas H. Gilmour, the Coast Guard's Assistant Commandant
for Marine Safety, Security and Environment Protection.
Under the terms of the Marine Equipment MRA, designated products
which comply with U.S. requirements will be accepted for sale in the EU without any
additional testing. The MRA will permit U.S. rigid life rafts, for example, determined by the U.S.
Coast Guard to conform to U.S. regulations to be sold in the EU marketplace without any
additional tests. Likewise, European rigid life rafts that are determined by European authorities to
meet EU requirements can be sold in the United States without additional testing.
The initial MRA product scope includes 43 products in three main
categories: life saving equipment (e.g., distress signals, rigid life rafts); fire
protection equipment (e.g., deck coverings, flame retardant materials); and navigational equipment (e.g., GPS
equipment, echo-sounding equipment). U.S. industry estimates that current two-way trade in
the initial products is $150-200 million annually.
The agreement fully preserves the U.S. Coast Guard's authority to
determine the level of safety protection it considers appropriate, and in no way lowers current
U.S. marine safety requirements.
Under negotiation since late 1999, the marine equipment MRA is an
initiative of the United States and European Union under the Transatlantic Economic
Partnership (TEP). The MRA will enter into force later this year.
In the United States, the U.S. Coast Guard administers conformity
assessment requirements for marine equipment used on merchant ships, which includes lifesaving
equipment, fire protection systems, and navigational equipment. The European Union and United
States maintain similar requirements -- both systems are based on the requirements under
the Conventions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Under the agreement,
each party agrees to cooperate in the IMO and other relevant international organizations to
establish and improve the quality and level of international requirements for marine equipment.
The MRA's product scope is based on a detailed product-by-product
determination of the equivalency of U.S. and EU marine equipment requirements. Only
products facing identical requirements in each market are included in the initial product
scope. In cases where equivalency subsequently is not maintained (e.g., one party
changes its requirements), the mutual recognition obligations for that product are suspended and the
product is removed from the scope of the agreement.
For further information, consult the full text of the agreement.