EU wants to include financial services in U.S. trade talks

BRUSSELS Sat Mar 16, 2013 5:36pm EDT

European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht answers reporters' questions during the Reuters Future of the Euro Zone Summit in Brussels February 27, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

European Union Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht answers reporters' questions during the Reuters Future of the Euro Zone Summit in Brussels February 27, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Francois Lenoir

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's top trade official said on Saturday he wants financial services to be included in negotiations on an ambitious EU-U.S. free trade pact.

The United States and the 27-nation EU agreed last month to launch negotiations on a wide-ranging Transatlantic free trade agreement, but details of what the talks will cover have been limited.

The EU's executive Commission approved a proposed European negotiating mandate last Tuesday but kept its contents secret.

The negotiating mandate must be approved by EU governments before the launch of negotiations, which the EU and the United States hope to start by June.

EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said on Saturday that financial services are among the sectors that he proposes to include in the negotiations.

"On financial services, you have two aspects - you have on the one hand the regulatory (aspect) and then you have the market access," he told a conference organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a group which aims to strengthen transatlantic cooperation.

He said the question of regulating financial services should not be part of the trade negotiation, although he said it was obvious that transatlantic discussions on this matter would continue independently.

"But, as far as we are concerned, market access in financial services should be on the agenda and that is also part of the mandate that we are asking (for) from ... ministers," he said in response to a question, without giving details.

The United States and the EU hope for a deal by the end of 2014 - a tight deadline in international trade talks.

The two sides believe a deal would add 0.5 percent to the EU economy and 0.4 percent to the U.S. economy by 2027, or 86 billion euros ($113 billion) a year for the Europeans and 65 billion euros for the Americans.

De Gucht has warned previously that the talks will be tough, with no "low hanging fruit". Import tariffs between the two are already not high - an average of 4 percent.

Negotiations will focus on harmonizing standards, from car seat belts to household cleaning products, and regulations governing services. These help ensure exporters can compete.

Fleshing out the negotiating plans can cause friction. Last year it took EU trade ministers four months to persuade the European car industry to let Brussels officials talk to Japan about creating a similar free-trade pact.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft, Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Jason Webb)

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Comments (2)
MikeBarnett wrote:
Including the regulation of financial services in US-EU trade is essential because the failure to regulate US financial services led to the continuing global financial crisis. US standards continue to be substandard to the point that some investment funds refuse to purchase US stocks or securities. Recent rises in the US stock markets appear to be extremely speculative because the US customer base has not recovered the numbers nor the broad purchasing power needed to drive the US economy forward. The EU continues to go from crisis to crisis, and the end is not in sight. The failures to reestablish divisions between commercial and investment banking causes banks to behave like casinos, so US and EU economies remain too unstable for serious, long term investments.

Mar 16, 2013 6:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
pbgd wrote:
The US should stay clear of ANY free trade talks with Brussels. Remember that Brussels EU bureaucrats are the folks that hatched the crazy banana war that took eight years to resolve. One cannot even imagine what they would do to a free trade pact.

Mar 17, 2013 8:16pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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