The European Branded Clothing Alliance (EBCA) has asked negotiators of the planned European Union-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to strike an ambitious agreement.

It told negotiators yesterday (4 February) it wanted a deal to fully remove tariffs and that either harmonises, or at least leads to, the mutual recognition of standards on clothing and textiles.

Textile and clothing products are still some of the most tariff-protected goods in both Europe and the US, argued Benjamin Krieger, senior consultant at the EBCA, speaking during a Brussels event dedicated to interest groups affected by TTIP. That is why the EBCA and its US counterparts, the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) and the US Fashion Industry Association (USFIA), would want the full, immediate, and reciprocal dismantling of tariffs, he explained.

But the negotiations – a round of talks is being staged this week in Brussels - should go further than this, according to Krieger. “We see a need to harmonise textile labelling regulations between the EU and the US to reduce the number of compulsory labelling requirements and to allow product labels to be kept as simple as possible."

There should also be flexible rules of origin agreed, Krieger said, to encourage the development of trade and investment of companies using global supply chains.

The name of textile fibres should also be aligned, as well as care instructions on clothing, all on the base of standards by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Krieger said. He added that  TTIP negotiators should also agree that both the EU and the US have the same list of substances prohibited or restricted to be used in textiles.

He added: "Ideally the EU and the US should work to remove unnecessary testing by expanding the acceptance of conformity [checks] and moving to an international standard for test methods."

Krieger's association represents more than 60 global clothing brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M), Nike and Inditex.