The TTIP trade deal is currently being negotiated by the EU and US

The TTIP trade deal is currently being negotiated by the EU and US

As the seventh round of talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) get underway this week, groups representing apparel brands and retailers in both the US and EU have set out what they see as the key priorities for the agreement.

A joint position paper sent to leaders in the US and EU governments calls for mechanisms to facilitate regulatory convergence, elimination of tariffs, flexible rules of origin, harmonisation and mutual recognition of standards, and facilitative customs provisions. 

The TTIP trade deal is currently being negotiated by the EU and US, and talks are taking place this week in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a suburb of Washington.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has joined with the European Branded Clothing Alliance (EBCA) and the US Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) to highlight the need for the textile and clothing industry to be able to access markets and suppliers worldwide, and the potential impact of tariffs and other trade barriers.

"A recent study of the US apparel industry showed that 70% of the retail value of US apparel imports is created in the United States," the paper says. "A similar study commissioned by EBCA showed that 50% to 80% of the value of European apparel and footwear imports is created in Europe.

"EU and US apparel, textile, and footwear manufacturers rely on global value chains for their success, as they import critical inputs or see their products incorporated into future imports."

Both sides in the talks are being urged to agree duty-free access for all apparel and textile products, as well as harmonise and simplify the rules and regulations governing apparel trade in Europe and the US.

The key priorities are set out as follows:

  • Mechanisms to facilitate regulatory convergence or mutual recognition of regulations and standards across the Atlantic: The removal of non-tariff legislative and regulatory barriers on each side of the Atlantic has the potential to create significant economic growth, the groups say.
  • Full, immediate, and reciprocal elimination of tariffs: Textile, leather, and clothing products are still among the most protected goods in the EU, the US and elsewhere, and a best-case scenario would be the full, reciprocal, and immediate elimination of duties on apparel, without phase-out periods.
  • Flexible Rules of Origin: "We urge the Rules of Origin in this agreement be simple and flexible to encourage the development of trade and investment of companies using global supply chains."
  • Harmonisation of regulations on labelling: Differences in textile-labelling regulations between the EU and the US "add cost for businesses and consumers." The groups want a reduction in the number of compulsory labels fixed to the product, and for these to be simplified to align the names of textile fibres, care instruction symbols, and chemicals substance requirements.
  • Harmonisation of regulations and requirements on product safety and test methods, ultimately moving towards a single international standard test method. 
  • Emphasis on Facilitative Customs Provisions: Reducing border costs and delays for traders by improving predictability, simplicity, and uniformity in border procedures could help boost trade, the groups say, adding that a standard approach for Customs across the US and in various ports in Europe would help to eliminate current inconsistencies. 
  • Establishment of a harmonised list of prohibited substances such as chemicals that are prohibited or restricted in textile/clothing products as well as establishing common maximum allowed levels at EU/US Federal levels.