The Apparel Industry on Both Sides of the Atlantic Push for Regulatory Coherence in the TTIP negotiation

TTIP

The European Apparel and Textile Confederation (EURATEX) and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), the two leading trade associations representing the apparel industry in the EU and US respectively, released their joint comment on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on December 13, pushing negotiators of the agreement to address the regulatory challenges that affect the apparel business across the Atlantic.  Specifically, the diverse labeling and product safety requirements between EU and US are identified as the two leading regulatory hurdles for the apparel business. Other issues of concern to the EURATEX and AAFA include conflict minerals reporting requirements, customs procedures and chemical management regimes.

TTIP, launched in June 2013, is one of the most important and economically influential free trade agreements currently under negotiation. If implemented, the agreement is expected to create additional $65 billion and $86 billion GDP to the US and the EU respectively.

It is argued that because the implementing tariff rate in the EU and US on average is already quite low, harmonizing regulatory differences rather than eliminating tariffs will be the key to the TTIP negotiation.* However, the very different and rigid legislative procedures in the EU and US may complicate the negotiation on regulatory coherence. Particularly, both the EU and US may want to convince the other side that their current regulations/standards are the better ones. And the political implication will be bad if trade negotiators of either side leave the impression domestically that the TTIP would lower down their current standards for sensitive topics such as “product safety” and “environmental protection” .  

Note*: as one of the few exceptions, the tariff rates for T&A are still relatively high: 6.6% for textiles and 11.5% for apparel in the EU as well as 7.9% for textiles and 11.6% for apparel in the US according to the World Trade Organization.

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by Sheng Lu

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Author: Sheng Lu

Professor @ University of Delaware

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