Acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis formally notified Congress on March 20 of the Obama administration’s intent to launch negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement with the European Union, which it is calling the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Following the conclusion of the congressional notification process, talks could begin as early as June 20, 2013.

According to Marantis’ letter, the plan to launch the TTIP negotiations “reflects the broadly shared conviction that transatlantic trade and investment,” which are already at significant levels, “can be an even stronger driver of mutual job creation, economic growth, and competitiveness.” To achieve that goal, however, the TTIP “would need to break new ground to create additional bilateral market openings and establish new trade rules that are globally relevant,” the letter said.

In that context, the letter outlines specific negotiating objectives in the areas of goods, services, e-commerce, investment, customs, government procurement, labor, environment, intellectual property rights, and other issues, including the following:

  • Eliminating all tariffs and other duties and charges on trade in agricultural, industrial and consumer products, with substantial duty elimination on entry into force of an agreement, transition periods where necessary for sensitive products, and safeguard mechanisms to be applied if and where necessary
  • Eliminating or reducing non-tariff barriers such as sanitary and phytosanitary restrictions that are not based on science, unjustified technical barriers to trade, restrictive administration of tariff-rate quotas, and permit and licensing barriers
  • Greater compatibility of U.S. and EU regulations and related standards development processes, including by promoting transparency in developing and implementing regulations and good regulatory practices, establishing mechanisms for future progress, and pursuing regulatory cooperation initiatives where appropriate
  • Disciplines to ensure the transparent, efficient, and predictable conduct of customs operations and ensure that customs measures are not applied in a manner that creates unwarranted procedural obstacles to trade
  • New opportunities to advance and defend the interests of U.S. creators, innovators, businesses, farmers, and workers with respect to strong protection and effective enforcement of IPR, including their ability to compete in foreign markets.

USTR’s notification letter to Congress is available here.