EU-US Trade Talks Delayed as Govt Shutdown Continues in Washington

10 October 2013

The second round of EU-US trade talks have been postponed as a result of the continuing government shutdown in Washington, officials announced last week. The talks were originally scheduled for 7-11 October in Brussels.

It was impossible to send the necessary officials to Europe for the talks, US Trade Representative Michael Froman said in explaining the decision. With no clear end to the budget stalemate in sight, no new date for the negotiating round has been set.

This second round was meant to have focused primarily on regulatory issues and standards, which are widely viewed as the most difficult part of the newly-launched trade negotiations. Officials from both sides had said that they hope negotiators can complete a "commonly agreed" outline of the regulatory and rules component of the pact by January, in time for a political review; it was unclear as Bridges went to press whether this timeline would be changed due to the delay. (See Bridges Weekly, 3 October 2013)

While EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht described the news as "unfortunate," he added that it did not undermine both sides' "clear commitment" to the negotiations.

Other trade initiatives have also felt the ramifications of the US federal government shutdown over the past week, with US President Barack Obama having to unexpectedly cancel his trip to Bali for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, as well as his participation in the related meetings regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks.

ICTSD reporting; "Amid Shutdown, US Cancels Trade Talks with the EU," THE HILL, 4 October 2013; "US Budget Trouble Hits EU Trade Talks," EU OBSERVER, 7 October 2013.

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