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Oct. 14 — The EU will present the U.S. a second offer on tariffs and a second offer on services at the 11th round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in Miami, the European Commission (EC) trade commissioner said Oct. 14.
The EC also hopes to open a discussion on regulatory schemes, though it will not table its plan to replace the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system with a multilateral investment court, EC Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem told at a press conference in Brussels on Oct. 14.
“We have asked the U.S. side for a little ‘time out’ to discuss our new approach to investment courts with member states,” Malmstroem said.
To that end, the EC is working on a “consolidated EU proposal” with member states, and will present that proposal to the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in the 12th round, she said.
Malmstroem said the EU had not changed its negotiating stance as per the conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Oct. 5 in Atlanta, but “hoped it will allow us to enter into more intense negotiations with our American partners now that this is off the agenda.”
Separately, the EU released its trade policy proposal for the next five years. Malmstroem said the EU would seek to launch revisions to the Mexican free trade agreement (FTA) early next year and reopen talks on the EU-Turkey customs union to include services.
The EC would also request authorization to negotiate FTAs with Australia and New Zealand, to restart negotiations on a region-to-region FTA with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to explore an investment agreement with South Korea in the context of a possible revision of the FTA, to conclude an ongoing investment agreement with China, and to explore launching negotiations on investment agreements with Hong Kong and Taiwan.
An EU trade lobbyist speaking on background to Bloomberg BNA on Oct. 13 said the Miami round will focus on goods, with a particular focus on rules of origin, non-tariff barriers, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, technical barriers to trade, and regulatory cooperation.
A member of the EU trade negotiating team added in an interview with Bloomberg BNA on Oct. 14 that public procurement will also be discussed in Miami.
U.S. state, local, and federal government procurement remains a sore point. An EU trade figure in Brussels said France and Germany are upset by the bargaining strategy used by Malmstroem's team as it relates to procurement.
“The EU has clearly said, ‘If there is not movement on public procurement, there's no TTIP,'” the lobbyist said. “But the EU's bargaining position is problematic, in my view. They are giving up a lot in the hopes that at the end they will get public procurement.”
He cited Malmstroem's proposal to lift an EU offer on tariff-line reductions from around 92 percent to around 93 percent or 94 percent as an example. The U.S. offer remains at around 80 percent tariff-line reductions.
“The French and German government were not happy that she moved so quickly,” he said. “They wanted to hold this until the end of the negotiations. As a result, they won't be able to use this as a bargaining chip later on, when they start to talk about the agricultural chapter.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Scaturro in Geneva at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The EU's five-year trade plan is available at http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2015/october/tradoc_153846.pdf.
Cecilia Malmstroem's speech calling for an upgraded EU-Mexico Free Trade Agreement available at http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/docs/2015/may/tradoc_153433.pdf.
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