Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Commerce Department Seeks Industry Help on Regulatory Cooperation between U.S. and EU

As part of the U.S.-EU High Level Regulatory Cooperation Forum (“U.S.-EU Forum”), the Commerce Department has asked the exporting industry to provide comments on ways for the United States and European Union to reduce or eliminate regulatory differences that impact international trade of goods between their borders.

The International Trade Administration (ITA) of the Commerce Department has concluded that the greatest impediment to more open foreign markets for U.S. exporters and investors is not customs duties or quota, but rather the differences in regulatory measures within the U.S. and EU. The ITA has recognized that such differences in regulations may not be warranted as they increase costs for U.S. producers and consumers without much benefit. The ITA has defined such regulatory measure differences as:

• Standards developed by a government and used in regulation;
• Standards developed by other bodies at request of government and used in regulation; and
• Proposals to provide a presumption of compliance to technical requirements developed by a government.

The Obama administration has set goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next five years. A large part of that strategy is to increase exports to the 27 EU member countries, which currently account for 19% of total U.S. exports. Although bilateral trade between the U.S. and EU was over $500 billion in 2010, U.S. exporters continue to complain that regulatory differences between the U.S. and EU hinder trade. For example, U.S. exporters commonly encounter divergent standards or technical requirements for certain products. A U.S.-origin product may meet strict U.S. standards, but not meet EU standards, making it more difficult and costly for U.S. companies to enter the EU market.

The U.S.-EU Forum and ITA recognize that cooperation between the trading partners will not only lessen the burden on U.S. exporters and thus on consumers, but it will also help governments. The ITA has suggested that when regulators in different countries are permitted to share information on specific regulatory issues, they are more likely to promulgate similar rules and “realize common public policy objectives.”

To meet these goals, the ITA is requesting that U.S. exporters submit comments describing how they believe there is an opportunity to facilitate trade without compromising health, safety or environmental concerns of the trading partners. Because of the large volume of trade between the U.S and the EU, the ITA would like to receive comments from all product sectors. Comments are due electronically to http://www.regulations.gov no later than June 2, 2011 and should be submitted under ITA-2001-0006.
See http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-10713.pdf for Federal Register notice and http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/oira_irc_europe for information on the U.S.-EU regulatory cooperation initiative.

No comments: