Obama says U.S.-EU trade talks are moving forward

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ROME -- U.S. President Barack Obama said his administration is moving forward with talks on establishing a trade pact between the United States and the European Union.

Automakers are lobbying hard for the pact to end import tariffs and adopt standard safety and environmental regulations.

Obama said the the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) was one of the issues he discussed on Thursday during his visit with Italian Prime Minster Matteo Renzi. 

"We discussed that we’re moving forward with TTIP, which can boost investment for small and medium companies on both sides of the Atlantic," Obama said at a press conference in Rome.

EU-U.S. auto-related trade currently accounts for some 10 percent of total trade between the two regions, ACEA, the European automakers lobby group, said. The top priority of automakers on both sides of the Atlantic is to achieve regulatory convergence of existing U.S. and EU vehicle safety standards.

"The common goal is to ensure that vehicles and their components could be imported and exported without unnecessary burdens and costs," ACEA said in a statement on March 11.

The United States has a 2.5 percent tariff on European-made passenger vehicles and the EU has a 10 percent tariff on American-made passenger vehicles, automaker associations say. Regulatory differences between the markets are equal to an added tariff of 26 percent, automaker associations say.

Eliminating some barriers and all tariffs would boost EU auto exports to the United States by 71 percent to 149 percent and U.S. exports to the EU by 207 percent to 347 percent by 2027, the groups say.

Import tariffs on cars and commercial vehicles shipped between the United States and EU countries and differing vehicle-quality and emissions rules add cost burdens and prevent development of uniform models for global markets, Wolfgang Schneider, Ford's European vice president for governmental affairs, told Automotive News Europe in an interview last year.

The full potential of creating the world's biggest free-trade zone would emerge from eliminating spending to design products to fit local requirements, Schneider said.

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