TTIP, US Business and Norway

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TTIP, US Business and Norway


Category: AmCham News

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Peter Chase, Vice President, Europe at US Chamber of Commerce

TTIP, US Business and Norway

The US Chamber of Commerce began pushing in 2010 for an ambitious agreement between the United States and the EU, believing it could jump-start our economies, then still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis. We, other business associations and hundreds of companies operating in the United States (including many European firms), joined together in the Business Coalition for Transatlantic Trade in 2011 to press for an agreement that will:

  • eliminate duties on trade in goods;
  • liberalize cross-border trade in services;
  • expand public procurement opportunities;
  • promote and protect investment;
  • overcome unnecessary divergences in regulation; and
  • improve the rule of law governing international trade generally.

While Norway would not be a direct party to TTIP, such an agreement would have an important impact on the country. First, TTIP will generate economic growth in Europe, by far Norway’s most important trading partner. The EU Commission forecasts that ten years after the implementation of TTIP, EU GDP will be 0.5% larger than it would have otherwise been. Some €600-800 billion of new growth will be injected into the economy over that decade, creating about a million new jobs in Europe and increased demand for Norwegian goods. In the short term, TTIP will mean more competition for Norwegian exporters in both the US and the EU, but the additional growth in your largest market will help offset that. Moreover, the conclusion of a US-EU agreement could (and I’d say should) quickly lead to negotiations toward a similar agreement between the United States and Norway (or EFTA), offsetting even these temporary disadvantages by giving Norwegian firms better access to the world’s largest economy outside the EU. The rules developed in these agreements could also be used to strengthen the WTO and international law in general. Perhaps most importantly, strengthening the broader transatlantic alliance through TTIP will benefit us all.

Closer regulatory cooperation between the US and EU will be one of TTIP’s most novel and important aspects, and is indeed credited for much of the growth TTIP will bring. Some wonder what this might mean for Norwegian consumers given Norway’s position in the EEA, since, in general, a product lawfully placed on the EU market should also be able to be sold in Norway.

For this, it is important to understand how the regulatory provisions in TTIP are likely to work. First, the EU has made absolutely clear it will not lower its consumer, environmental, labor or prudential standards for TTIP; Mr. Obama has said the same for the United States. Both US and EU regulators answer to democratically-elected representatives in Congress, the European Parliament and indeed national parliaments; they will not do anything that allows unsafe products or services into the markets they are meant to protect.

Accordingly, TTIP will set a general goal that US and EU regulatory agencies should strive to make regulations governing products and services traded between the US and EU more compatible, and will provide some tools to help do this. But the regulators themselves will remain in control of any agreements with their counterparts, which would be referenced in annexes. In this sense, TTIP will actually raise consumer protections, because regulators will only conclude agreements if the levels of protection on both sides of the Atlantic are similar, and if they trust and have confidence in their counterpart. The agreements will then allow them to focus their enforcement resources on products and services coming from higher risk jurisdictions, so they can become more efficient and thus more effective in doing their job of protecting our citizens.

The US and EU have already concluded a number of agreements like this. Two examples: when the European Aviation Safety Agency certifies an Airbus as airworthy, the US Federal Aviation Administration accepts this (and vice versa). And both have agreed their organic products labeling schemes are equivalent, so European organic products can be sold as such in the US. TTIP should add to this cooperation in such areas as motor vehicle safety or mutual recognition of good manufacturing practices in foods and pharmaceuticals. In all cases, TTIP would help build a bridge where levels of protection are similar, but not affect underlying regulations. So Norway’s EEA obligations would not in any way reduce protections for Norwegian consumers.

As noted, this sort of in-depth regulatory cooperation is only possible when regulators know and trust each other. In this sense, Norway’s EEA status should help reach similar levels of ambition in any future US-Norway agreement. It will, however, be useful for Norway’s regulators to already now begin reaching out to their American counterparts to build the trust and respect both sides will need.

In sum, TTIP will expand the US and EU economies and create new jobs – while simultaneously protecting key interests – thus strengthening the ties between the United States and the European Union. Such expansion will, in the long-term, have a positive impact on Norway and its industries.