WASHINGTON — The chief trade negotiators from the U.S. and European Union said Friday they had made progress in initial discussions covering a wide range of areas, including textiles, and outlined areas of “divergence and convergence,” as the two sides wrapped up the first round of negotiations here on a trans-Atlantic trade accord.
The U.S. and EU hope to significantly boost trade with the free-trade agreement that has major implications for U.S. imports and exports of apparel, textiles, footwear and accessories.
“All engagement this week has been very positive and… substantive,” chief U.S. negotiator Dan Mullaney said at a press conference Friday.
Mullaney said several areas were covered by negotiators this week. In addition to textiles and the rule of origin, topics that were discussed included investment, intellectual property rights, market access for industrial goods, regulatory coherence and cooperation and technical barriers.
Some of the thorny trade issues facing negotiators include France’s concerns over audiovisual controls, agricultural subsidies on both sides of the Atlantic, “Buy America” rules in the U.S. pertaining to government procurement and Europe’s opposition to the use of genetically modified foods. Another outstanding issue directly impacts the fashion industry: In April, the EU tripled the tariff on U.S.-made women’s and girls’ cotton denim jeans to 38 percent, as part of a World Trade Organization case the trading bloc won against the U.S. in 2005, and industry groups are pressing for a resolution.
“Because this has been our first direct, substantive engagement in these negotiations, the goal of the first round was to walk through, cover all of the areas that may be addressed in this negotiation, share initial thoughts about how to approach each issue, discuss our priorities, discuss our objectives and set up solid work streams [that lead] to increased substantive engagement in the second round,” Mullaney said.