The second round of TTIP negotiations took place on 11-15 November. Judging by the joint Commission/USTR Brussels press briefing on 15 November, the EU and US TTIP Chief Negotiators (Ignacio Garcia-Bercero and Dan Mullaney) felt the round went well. Both gave an impression of enjoying good relations and of having had a useful week of discussions without any overwhelming disagreement. Dan Mullaney and Ignacio Garcia-Bercero readily picked up each other’s points to emphasise common ground between the two sides. Although both underlined that the negotiations were still at an early stage, with a plenty of ground still to be explored, satisfaction was evident in Ambassador Froman's statement on the ground covered, which Commissioner de Gucht also described as "good and steady progress".
This was a specially arranged second round, in place of the talks which were postponed as a result of the US government shutdown. It followed on from the first round in July, and covered
- approaches to investment liberalisation and protection;
- services, including aspects of cross-border services, financial services, telecommunications and e-commerce. Regulatory cooperation in financial services was not discussed (some relevant officials were not present), but – importantly - but both sides agreed to discuss this shortly;
- regulatory issues, including “horizontal” rules, regulatory coherence, technical barriers to trade and how to enhance regulatory compatibility in specific sectors;
- energy and raw materials.
For TheCityUK and its members, the key points of interest, as always, concern financial and professional services. While last week’s talks saw some discussion of financial services (as one of a number of service sectors), there was no discussion on financial services regulation. Both sides made clear however at the press conference that there will be video-conferences between now and the week of 27 November, and the Commission press release said that regulatory cooperation in financial services would be discussed “within the next two weeks”. In answer to questions as to whether the US was becoming more open to discussion on financial services regulatory issues, Dan Mullaney said that the EU side had requested conversations and the US side was “ready to engage”. He added that all US trade agreements included provisions on such matters as regulatory transparency in financial services. Overall, financial services regulatory issues would take some time to discuss.
All this is heartening news. It is particularly encouraging that no issue was identified during the second round as a candidate for exclusion from the negotiations, and even more positive that talks on regulatory coherence in financial services are set to take place. TheCityUK has done a good deal to put and explain our case for this – notably by reaching out to a wide range of US interlocutors during TheCityUK’s recent visit to Washington DC for the Global Services Summit. If TheCityUK’s recent visit to Washington DC for the Global Services Summit that has borne fruit, so much the better.
Visit to Washington DC provides opportunity to highlight TheCityUK’s key trade and investment priorities at Global Services Summit
The Global Services Summit is always one of the highlights of the year for those interested in trade in services. This year’s Summit, held in Washington DC on 30 October 2013 and themed “Pushing the Frontiers of Services”, was no exception.
The City Speaks – a study of the views of financial and related professional services leaders on the EU
This morning saw the launch of new research from TheCityUK on the views of the leaders of financial and related professional services on the UK’s membership of the EU and the Single Market. You can find the research here or a short video summary here. This is the first research with a truly cross sectoral perspective and breadth, which reveals the most detailed analysis yet on how our leaders really feel about Britain’s relationship with its European neighbours. Over breakfast at the offices of our kind hosts Clifford Chance in Canary Wharf, we explored the results in more detail.
Yesterday saw the launch of HM Treasury’s call for evidence for the Third Semester of the Balance of Competences Review – Single Market: Financial Services and the Free Movement of Capital. The launch was supported by TheCityUK and kindly hosted by BNY Mellon in Manchester. Financial and professional services professionals, business groups and academics were introduced to the new Semester by Charles Roxburgh – Director-General, Financial Services at HM Treasury – who outlined the aims of the Review and detailed the request for evidence. Discussion then focused on some of the issues that attendees expect to form their responses.
The 2013 party conference season concluded this week with the Conservatives in Manchester. Our annual visit to the city (a hub for both Labour and Conservative conferences over the last few years) was standing room only as we welcomed more than 120 delegates to a packed fringe on the competitiveness of UK financial services.
After visiting US regulators and legislators in Washington D.C. earlier in the summer, this month’s second leg of our US programme focused on our own member businesses in New York, with some outreach to like-minded business bodies, the global media and Britain’s New York based diplomats.
We gathered in Brighton this week where the Labour Party were holding their autumn conference. Our fringe was chaired by Lord Liddle who heads Policy Network which is helping Lord Adonis with his growth review paper. Our focus? How finance and industry could work better for Britain.
The Liberal Democrats returned to Scotland after a ten year hiatus for their annual conference this week. We were there too, after a much briefer interlude it should be said, to hold a fringe event about competitive financial services outside London. With such a great panel of speakers including Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, Sharon Bowles MEP, Lord Kirwood, David Nish of Standard Life and Chris Cummings of TheCityUK, the conversation and the Q&A addressed that topic and touched on several other core concerns.