Although Froman and Malmström continue to work toward a comprehensive trade and investment agreement by the end of 2016, the prospects of such an outcome are very slim. Even if the parties were to reach a high-level solution to the most contentious issues that remain, the technical work necessary for TTIP’s regulatory pillar alone would take months to sort out.
If a political agreement is not concluded during the Obama presidency, stakeholders should expect negotiations to stall in the first half of 2017 and face a high level of uncertainty in the second half of the year.
A new U.S. administration and European Commission – if both parties remain committed to a TTIP agreement – may decide to carry negotiations beyond 2017. Three years is a relatively short time for the creation of a major trade and investment agreement. By comparison, TPP took approximately eight years to finalize, and TTIP is arguably more complex both in content and procedure. If the United States and European Union take time to thoroughly address remaining challenges, create mutually agreeable convergence of their complex regulatory systems, and set global trade rules that are forward-looking and transferable to third countries, TTIP may end up – beyond a comprehensive trade and investment agreement – the foundation for a new period of positive and effective trans-Atlantic cooperation.
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