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U.S. and EU Vow to Continue to Pursue TTIP Despite “Brexit”

U.S. and European Union officials said in late June that they will continue to work toward their goal of concluding a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement by the end of this year despite the United Kingdom’s 23 June vote to withdraw from the EU. However, some observers are doubtful such an outcome can be achieved given Brussels’ anticipated focus on the withdrawal process and its ramifications in the months ahead.

In a popular referendum, the UK voted to terminate its more than 40-year membership in the EU. Withdrawal from the EU is unprecedented and fraught with uncertainty and will continue to have rippling effects for years to come for the UK, the EU and the rest of the world. However, Brexit itself will not take effect for at least two years and possibly longer. A great deal of work lies ahead, during which time it will be important for companies to conduct thoughtful analyses and make reasoned decisions concerning potential impacts, future business operations and continued trade compliance.

U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman said that while the United States is evaluating the effect of the so-called Brexit on the TTIP negotiations the “economic and strategic rationale” for this agreement “remains strong.” There has been “a lot of progress on the agreement during the last eight months,” Froman said, but “we’re going to need a creative, pragmatic approach to resolve the outstanding issues” in order to “conclude an ambitious, comprehensive and high standard agreement this year.”

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said she is “determined to make as much progress as possible in the months to come” with respect to the TTIP discussions. Malmström met with Froman in late June in an effort to “advance further in these negotiations.” She added that the EU also intends to remain engaged in pursuing and concluding other trade negotiations, including a free trade agreement with Canada that is “the most ambitious and progressive agreement we have concluded so far.” The 14th round of TTIP negotiations will take place 11-15 July in Brussels. Negotiators are expected to discuss all three main parts of the agreement, namely market access, regulatory co-operation and rules.

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