Transatlantic Trade: US and European Trade Talk Update – July 12, 2020



Stacy A. Swanson|Christina Economides|Laura Delap|Ludmilla L. Kasulke|The National Law Review

The United Kingdom (UK) unveiled its new human rights sanctions regime this past week, along with its first designations.  The United States (US) welcomed the action, and some US lawmakers continue to urge the European Union (EU) to adopt a similar regime.  Meanwhile, the EU moved forward with its trade policy review, with some seeking to provide the bloc with additional leverage in trade negotiations.  US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke this week of transatlantic relationships and other trade matters, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Director-General selection process.  EU-UK talks continue to struggle, with some possible WTO concerns surrounding Britain’s impending full border control plan, which is due to be released this coming week.

On Thursday, 9 July, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer suggested a path forward to resolving the long-standing large civil aircraft dispute that needs to include the EU paying back some of the subsidies it paid decades ago with respect to Airbus.  During an online moderated conversation hosted by Chatham House, Ambassador Lighthizer said, “It’s going to require commitments not to do it again, but also paying back some element of the subsidy and that’s tricky because people don’t have the same number.” 

Ambassador Lighthizer was positive about progress in the ongoing US-UK trade negotiations.  “We expect to have all the text laid down, which is really when you start focusing on things.”  He added, “I am optimistic we’ll have an agreement in due course. These things normally take a long time. We’re trying to do it as quickly as we can.”  The Ambassador also acknowledged that some “very, very significant issues” remain to be addressed.

The UK Government plans to publish its full border control plan on 13 July.  According to a presentation by the EU Chief Negotiator to the House of Lord meeting last month, the EU will introduce full border checks with the UK from 1 January 2021, irrespective of the outcome of the current talks on the future relations.  The UK will follow suit with a six-month delay.

On Thursday, the European Commission published guidelines for businesses, governments, and citizens to prepare for the new situation between the EU and the UK after the end of the transition period.  The 35-pages document outlines expected changes in multiple scenarios, whether there is an agreement on the future partnership or not.  It covers issues such as trade in goods and adjacent custom issues, trade in services, energy, mobility issues, energy, company, and civil law, and many others.

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