The EU will offer to lift tariffs on nearly all goods imported from the United States during the Trans-Atlantic Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, Reuters news agency says.
Brussels and Washington are negotiating towards the world’s biggest free-trade pact and, according to Reuters sources, on Monday EU negotiators will make their tariff-lifting offer.
A week later, EU Trade Commissioner Karl De Gucht will meet with US Trade Secretary Michael Froman in Washington.
Reuters says that officials familiar with the EU’s proposal have told it that the EU will offer to lift 96 percent of existing import tariffs on the understanding that Washington reciprocates. Protection will be retained for a few sensitive products such as beef, poultry and pork.
Two transition categories will be proposed for a further 3 percent of goods, with periods of three and seven years until tariffs are dropped to allow EU industry to adapt, Reuters’ sources say. These could include commercial vehicles and some agricultural products.
“This is just the first step, but it sends a message that no sector will be completely shielded from liberalization,” one source involved in preparing the EU offer told Reuters.
A study by Centre for Economic Policy Research, a leading independent pan-European economic research organization predicts that an ambitious TTIP deal would increase the size of the EU economy around €120 billion (or 0.5% of GDP) and the US by €95 billion (or 0.4% of GDP) – permanently.
The study provides some assessments of the sectors that are likely to benefit most from TTIP, which include metal products (exports up 12%), processed foods (+9%), chemicals (+9%), other manufactured goods (+6%), other transport equipment(+6%), and especially motor vehicles (40%).
On the same day the EU opens its cards the US will do the same, simultaneously, so that neither side has an advantage over the other.
Reuters says the swap marks the first concrete step since negotiations were launched last July, although offers can change considerably during trade talks.
Officials close to the offer exchange said the EU’s proposal was split into four categories.