Last week negotiators and regulatory experts held detailed talks on sectors including cosmetics in a bid to enhance regulatory coherence and compatibility and possible elements for a chapter on technical barriers to trade going beyond WTO disciplines.
Continuing from where they left off in the first round in July, EU & US reps discussed investment rules, trade in services, and energy and raw materials.
“We compared regulations on cosmetics in the EU and the US, since we know that certain cosmetic ingredients are prohibited in the EU convergence” between the positive and negative lists of cosmetic ingredients in the EU and the US," says EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht.
"Negotiators have their eyes on more than just removing the remaining low tariffs. The main hurdles to trade lie 'behind the border' in regulations, non-tariff barriers and red tap," she adds.
The talks also involved a range of regulatory issues, including regulatory coherence, technical barriers to trade and sectoral approaches.
Efforts to align the trans-Atlantic divide on cosmetic standards
At the heart of the European regulation system is the "Precautionary Principle," which is enshrined in the EU treaty and gives its' regulators more license than their counterparts in the U.S. to restrict or ban substances that are believed to be harmful.
In essence, the EU system says that some chemicals are so hazardous that they shouldn't be used at all, while the U.S. system in many cases would keep them on the market, so long as they aren't used in ways that would harm people.
Both sides are hoping that these talks will help to align their domestic standards in this instance, and that they will be able to set the benchmark for developing global rules – beneficial for both EU and US exporters, as well as for the multilateral trading system.
"We are making good and steady progress across the broad range of issues we need to tackle to make our transatlantic business environment more efficient and effective whilst preserving the protections and rights already in place for consumers,” De Gucht explains.
The next round of talks will take place in Washington DC the week of 16 December, after this round both parties will then take stock, identify areas of convergence and areas where political guidance might be needed.