Only An Ambitious TTIP Would Allow Consumers To Really Benefit
On Wednesday 4th February 2015, DG Trade organised a stakeholder event during the eight round of the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, taking place in Brussels from 2nd to 6th February 2015. The European Branded Clothing Alliance (EBCA) had the opportunity to make a presentation on the potential benefits of an ambitious TTIP agreement for the branded clothing industry in front of key EU and US negotiators as well as representatives of various industries and NGOs.
EBCA explained that TTIP could be an excellent deal for European consumers and businesses if both sides manage to secure an ambitious agreement.
Indeed, the textile and clothing industry depends on access to markets and suppliers worldwide and is especially vulnerable to trade barriers. Tariffs and other types of trade barriers imposed at each border add to the cost of the final product and may affect the organisation of the global value chain. EBCA thus recommended that the EU and U.S. negotiators pursue and deliver on an ambitious free trade agreement, which includes:
- Full, immediate, and reciprocal elimination of tariffs: Textile, leather, and clothing products are still among the most protected goods in the EU and the U.S which unnecessarily impose costs on consumers in both the U.S. and the EU
- Regulatory convergence or mutual recognition should be used where possible and support the creation of a mechanism in TTIP that fosters the exchange between EU and U.S. legislative and regulatory authorities on how to address barriers to trade.
- Flexible Rules of Origin: RoO in this agreement should be simple and flexible to encourage the development of trade and investment of companies using global supply chains
- Harmonisation of regulations on labelling: Need to harmonise textile-labelling regulations between the EU and the U.S. the number of compulsory labelling requirements should be minimized to allow product-labels to be kept as simple as possible to promote consumer understanding (alignment of the names of textile fibres and care instruction symbols on the basis of ISO standards, elimination of requirements at Member State and U.S. State levels for chemicals substance labelling in favour of EU/U.S. Federal level requirements).
- Establishment of a harmonised list of prohibited substances: EBCA supports the intention to work towards establishing a common list of chemicals and other substances which are prohibited or restricted in textile/clothing products. Ideally, negotiators would agree on a simplification of compliance procedures without lowering the level of protection
- Harmonisation of regulations and requirements on product safety and test methods: Ideally, the EU and the U.S. should work to remove unnecessary and duplicative testing by expanding of acceptance of conformity assessment bodies and moving towards a single international standard test method
- Emphasis on Facilitative Customs Provisions: A standard approach for Customs across the U.S. and the EU would help to eliminate current inconsistencies leading to high additional costs
EBCA’s presentation has received positive media coverage in Just-Style.