UPDATE 1-EU, United States iron out differences over derivatives trading

Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:37pm EST

* EU platforms get relief from U.S. rules

* Deal reached on day EU trade reporting starts

By Huw Jones

LONDON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - The European Commission and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said they have agreed a common approach for swaps contracts so they can be traded on electronic platforms to aid transparency and reduce risk.

World leaders called for the rules to shine a light on the $700 trillion market for credit default swaps and interest swaps found at the heart of the 2007-09 financial crisis.

Implementation in the EU and United States, however, has raised the prospect of unfair double compliance which banks and businesses say would bump up costs and encourage them to trade elsewhere in the world.

In a joint statement the European Union executive and the U.S. derivatives regulator said they have made significant progress towards harmonising trading rules.

"The two commissions have provided confirmation this week that a global race-to-the-top in derivatives regulation is possible," said CFTC acting chairman Mark Wetjen.

EU financial services chief Michel Barnier said it was an important but far from final step on the road towards global convergence in rules.

The United States has introduced a new breed of electronic platform to trade derivatives that have hitherto largely been transacted privately among big banks like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley.

They are known as swap execution facilities or SEFs and come into effect this month, but their equivalent in the EU, known as organised trading facilities or OTFs, won't be ready until the end of 2016.

The agreement covers the gap between the two.

Electronic platforms that already trade derivatives in the EU under current rules won't have to comply with U.S. SEF registration and trading requirements until the EU's new trading rules come into force at the end of 2016.

In the meantime, the CFTC is expected to finalise its trading rules to avoid foreign trading platforms having to comply with the SEF rules in full, an EU official said.

But some thorny issues remain, such as on what basis the EU will allow U.S. clearing houses to serve European customers.

EU rules requiring all derivatives trades to be recorded for regulators to see, came into force on Wednesday.

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