12 March 1998
Transatlantic Marketplace proposals win Brussels backing
THE European Commission has approved proposals for the so-called New
Transatlantic Marketplace, which would free up trade in the services area with the United States.
The US gave a cautious welcome to the plans, which include the ambitious goal of eliminating worldwide tariffs on industrial goods by 2010 subject to certain conditions being fulfilled.
But the Commission wants to exclude agricultural tariffs and subsidies and audio-visual services from the negotiations.
France is worried it will not be possible to exclude agricultural subsidies
and audio-visual trade and it fears talks could damage the multilateral trade
Brussels insistence on excluding these areas risks antagonising the US
Congress, where lowering EU barriers to US food, software and entertainment
exports is widely regarded as a top priority.
Sir Leon Brittan, European trade commissioner, said the EU would show
“sensitivity” to US demands for other areas to be excluded. These could include maritime services, for example.
And Brussels willingness to extend proposals for closer co-operation on food regulation and standards, for instance, and build on existing transatlantic initiatives, would be particularly welcome in the US.
Sir Leon was confident the plans would be on the agenda of the next EU-US
summit in the UK in May.
- Financial Times 12/03/98 page 4