U.S. Appears to Be Shifting on Key Item in Trade Talks ; Special Session Planned to Discuss Whether to Include Financial Services

By Hakim, Danny | International New York Times, November 16, 2013 | Go to article overview

U.S. Appears to Be Shifting on Key Item in Trade Talks ; Special Session Planned to Discuss Whether to Include Financial Services


Hakim, Danny, International New York Times


The chief negotiators for both the United States and the European Union said they would hold a special session on financial services on Nov. 27.

American negotiators appear to be softening their resolve to keep financial services out of trans-Atlantic trade talks with the European Union.

At a news conference Friday in Brussels, after concluding a second round of talks, the chief negotiators for both sides said they would hold a special session on financial services this month. That meeting is set for Nov. 27 in Brussels and will include officials from the United States Treasury Department and the office of the United States trade representative.

Because of congressional efforts in recent years to overhaul financial regulation in the United States, American officials had been reluctant to include financial services in the trade talks. But in this past week's negotiations in Brussels, the Americans seem to have become more open to at least discussing the subject.

"We haven't taken anything off the table," L. Daniel Mullaney, the chief American negotiator, said at the news conference. "The E.U. side has made clear that they want to have conversations in this area, and we are engaging in those conversations."

One of the main aims of the talks has been to create mutual recognition of regulation on both sides of the Atlantic as a way to reduce red tape, though some consumer advocates have expressed concern that existing regulations could be weakened. European officials have sought to extend the discussion about regulatory collaboration into financial services, rather than seek any particular concessions, a European official said.

The official also said the sides had already been talking about financial services, but could not continue those discussions this week because key Treasury Department officials were traveling with the Treasury secretary, Jacob J. Lew, on a trip to China. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

Mr. Mullaney was asked whether any officials from regulatory authorities might attend the talks, which might potentially include agencies like the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. …

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