Brady, Hatch Send Letter to USTR as TTIP Negotiations with EU Begin Again

Leaders Express Support for Strong Enforcement, Ambitious TTIP Agreement
October 3, 2016 — Correspondence    — Press Releases   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) today sent a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman regarding the fifteenth round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations between the U.S. and European Union (EU), which begin today in New York. In the letter, the Chairmen urged the Administration to continue pursuing a comprehensive, ambitious agreement with the EU that will produce significant economic benefits for American businesses and consumers. They also expressed concern about the lack of engagement by the EU on key sectors of interest to Members of Congress.

In particular, the Chairmen noted:

“We understand that the successful conclusion of TTIP will require political leadership on both sides of the Atlantic. Congress continues to support enhanced economic and commercial ties between the United States and the EU through the completion of a strong and ambitious TTIP, and we urge you to make as much progress as possible by the end of this year to create momentum for further action on a comprehensive TTIP next year.”    

They emphasized their concerns with the EU position:

“We remain concerned, however, by the unwillingness of the EU to negotiate on key issues of high priority for the United States, and we ask that you continue to emphasize to the EU that any eventual TTIP must address such issues if Congress is to support the agreement.”

They concluded:

“The EU’s pattern of ‘hostage taking’ and other stall tactics has led us to where we are today – to a point where European leaders are expressing an inability and an unwillingness to complete a comprehensive agreement by the end of this year. However, we remain committed to continuing and elevating these negotiations. Even if they cannot be finished this year, we believe it is essential to make progress and, by so doing, to create momentum for next year. The United States has come to the table prepared to negotiate a high-standard agreement, and we have the political will to do so. Congress will not accept an abbreviated or low-standard agreement simply because the Europeans have run out the clock. TTIP must be a single undertaking.

“We support your efforts to continue to pressure the EU on these key issues of high priority for Congress and the American people. A strong and comprehensive TTIP is important for American businesses, consumers, farmers, and workers.”

CLICK HERE to read the letter.

Full text of the letter below.

The Honorable Michael Froman
United States Trade Representative
Office of the United States Trade Representative
600 17th St., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20508

Dear Ambassador Froman:

As the fifteenth round of negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) begin this week in New York, we write to you, on a bicameral basis, to express our support for your continued efforts to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive agreement with the European Union.

A broad and ambitious trade and investment agreement remains a high priority for Congress. Together, the United States and the EU account for nearly 30 percent of global trade. A comprehensive TTIP will open markets for more than 28 million American businesses, support the creation of more and higher-paying jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, and further deepen a decades-long relationship with one of our most important trading partners.

We understand that the successful conclusion of TTIP will require political leadership on both sides of the Atlantic. Congress continues to support enhanced economic and commercial ties between the United States and the EU through the completion of a strong and ambitious TTIP, and we urge you to make as much progress as possible by the end of this year to create momentum for further action on a comprehensive TTIP next year.

We remain concerned, however, by the unwillingness of the EU to negotiate on key issues of high priority for the United States, and we ask that you continue to emphasize to the EU that any eventual TTIP must address such issues if Congress is to support the agreement. Throughout the negotiations, the EU has not appeared committed to our goal of full tariff elimination for all products, including in the agriculture sector. Similarly, with respect to services, the EU continues to seek to exclude key sectors. In addition, TTIP must include clear and enforceable commitments on digital trade, but the EU has not engaged meaningfully in this sector, particularly regarding cross border data flows and data server localization requirements. We also have not seen sufficient progress on sanitary and phytosanitary issues and are troubled by the EU’s attempts to include geographical indicators (GIs) in the agreement and to export its GI system to other countries. Also concerning is the EU’s apparent unwillingness to include an adequate mechanism in the agreement for the effective resolution of investment disputes.

Finally, we must ensure that the agreement includes strong provisions to protect intellectual property rights, consistent with the high standards set by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, and that the agreement promotes transparency, cooperation, and coherence with respect to regulatory practices, including in the area of financial services.

The EU’s pattern of “hostage taking” and other stall tactics has led us to where we are today – to a point where European leaders are expressing an inability and an unwillingness to complete a comprehensive agreement by the end of this year. However, we remain committed to continuing and elevating these negotiations. Even if they cannot be finished this year, we believe it is essential to make progress and, by so doing, to create momentum for next year. The United States has come to the table prepared to negotiate a high-standard agreement, and we have the political will to do so. Congress will not accept an abbreviated or low-standard agreement simply because the Europeans have run out the clock. TTIP must be a single undertaking.

We support your efforts to continue to pressure the EU on these key issues of high priority for Congress and the American people. A strong and comprehensive TTIP is important for American businesses, consumers, farmers, and workers, and both sides of the Atlantic stand to benefit – both economically and strategically – from an ambitious TTIP agreement.

SUBCOMMITTEE: Trade