Coke urges US and EU to tackle trade barriers

Related tags European union United states

Companies seeking to do business across the Atlantic face
significant hurdles if the United States and European Union do not
work to remove non-tariff trade barriers, claimed Coca-Cola chief
executive Neville Isdell.

Speaking to the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States last week, he warned that hidden regulatory barriers are creating a new level of protectionism. He highlighted health, labour and environmental regulations as key areas requiring US-EU attention.

Although the Coke chief said that it would require considerable political will in both the United States and Europe to reduce and eliminate regulatory barriers, he said that he believed that progress was possible.

Isdell's speech builds on last month's World Economic Forum​ in Davos, Switzerland, where a group of business leaders called for closer US - EU economic ties. Their so-called "Trans Atlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) Davos Declaration"​ urged the removal of hidden regulatory barriers that they claim are creating new levels of protectionism.

"Our objective reflects the fact that the dominant feature of the transatlantic economic relationship is not only the $500 billion in annual US-European trade, but also the annual $2 trillion we derive from long-term investment, production, research and innovation across the Atlantic,"​ said the statement.

"Unfortunately, growth of this economic relationship remains seriously constrained by non-tariff barriers to capital for investment, as well as to the transatlantic trade in goods and services. The barriers impose significant obstacles for US and European companies that wish to expand their relationships within the transatlantic market."

The TABD says that it wants every annual US-EU summit to dedicate itself toward improving the transatlantic economic relationship. This, argues the declaration, should be the forum for setting objectives, defining responsibilities, allocating tasks and monitoring progress towards the long-term goal of a barrier-free transatlantic market.

Greater coordination between US and European legislators could also play a useful role in removing non-tariff barriers to trade and investment. The TABD also recommends the creation of a new Regulatory Cooperation Forum with members drawn from the US Administration, the European Commission, and regulatory agencies whose responsibilities substantially affect transatlantic trade and investment.

"We appreciated the very positive responses from both the US and EU administrations and hope that, by the time of this year's summit, solid progress will have been made in implementing a number of these recommendations,"​ said the declaration.

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