The Council of the EU has adopted today, 15 April 2019, the decisions authorising the opening of negotiations of agreements with the US and related negotiating directives on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods and on conformity assessment. It also decided to make public both the decisions authorising the opening of the negotiations with the US and the accompanying negotiating directives.
The Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU (RO PRES 2019) has made significant efforts towards the implementation of the Joint Statement of 25 July 2018 of Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Trump, as one of the main priorities of the RO PRES 2019 in the trade policy area. The Joint Statement represents the beginning of a new phase in the EU-US trade relations by promoting the development of trade in industrial goods, cooperation on standards regulation and on the World Trade Organization modernisation process.
The recommendations for decisions and for negotiating directives had been sent by the European Commission to the Trade Policy Committee of the Council of the EU on 18 January 2019. Those recommendations were discussed at political level during the informal Foreign Affairs Council – Trade, organized in Bucharest on 21-22 February 2019. The Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the governments of the Member States to the European Union (COREPER II) approved the decisions on 11 April 2019 and submitted them for adoption today in the AGRI Council meeting.
”Today’s adoption of the EU negotiating directives gives a clear signal of the EU’s commitment to a positive trade agenda with the US and the implementation of the strictly defined work programme agreed by Presidents Trump and Juncker on 25 July 2018. But let me be clear: we will not speak about agriculture or public procurement. Another important element is that the environmental and social impact of the agreement will be fully taken into account during the negotiations,” said Minister Ștefan-Radu Oprea, President of the Council.
The EU and the US are the largest and the most integrated economies in the world, with a long, shared history of trade and a similar level of economic development. The US is the main export destination of EU exports in industrial goods and is the second largest exporter of industrial goods to the EU.
The negotiating directives on the removal of customs duties on industrial products provide for the reciprocal elimination of tariffs, taking into account the EU sensitivities, such as energy-intensive and fishery products, as well as the environmental impact arising from the differences in the EU and US regulatory frameworks. Industrial products include all products other than those included in Annex I to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture (agricultural products).
The mandates also clarify that the negotiating directives for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreed in June 2013 must be considered obsolete and no longer relevant.
The removal of customs duties on industrial products and the reduction of conformity assessment costs will generate important economic benefits by increasing bilateral trade and improving market access, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are unevenly affected by the costs of introducing a new product on the market.