29 October 2012

Africa: EU, U.S. Partner to Promote Global Open Investment Policies

Washington — Senior officials of the European Union and the United States met in Washington October 24 to continue discussions on global investment policy.

The talks have worldwide implications because the United States and the European Union are the world's largest sources and destinations for foreign investment. Trans-Atlantic investment benefits companies and workers by creating high-paying jobs, boosting exports and spurring innovation in both the United States and the European Union, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said.

The meeting of the Working Group on Investment, a dialogue of senior officials under the auspices of the Transatlantic Economic Council, was led for the United States by Assistant U.S. Trade Representatives Christine Bliss and L. Daniel Mullaney and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Deborah McCarthy. The European Union delegation was led by European Commission Director of Services and Investment, Intellectual Property and Public Procurement Rupert Schlegelmilch.

According to USTR, the two sides discussed global investment policy and third country issues of common concern, and reaffirmed their shared commitment to maintaining and promoting investment policies that are open, transparent and nondiscriminatory, including through the negotiation of "high-standard" international investment agreements.

In line with these objectives, USTR said, the United States and the European Union continue to promote their Shared Principles for International Investment, which were agreed upon in April.

The principles embody a number of shared core values, including a commitment to open and nondiscriminatory investment policies, a level competitive playing field, strong protections for investors and their investments, neutral and binding international dispute settlement, strong rules on transparency and public participation, responsible business conduct and narrowly tailored reviews of national security considerations.

The investment policy discussions and the April shared principles stem from a November 29, 2011, meeting of the Transatlantic Economic Council, a political body that seeks to oversee and accelerate government-to-government cooperation with the aim of advancing economic integration between the European Union and the United States.

At that 2011 meeting, U.S. Cabinet-level officials and EU commissioners urged that a joint set of international investment principles be developed to strengthen collaborative efforts to foster open investment policies.

After the shared principles were adopted in April, the Department of State and USTR issued a joint statement on their significance. "The United States looks forward to working with the EU to promote the principles around the world, including through the G8 Deauville Partnership with countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)," State and USTR said.

An April 10 joint U.S.-EU statement recognizes that governments can embrace these shared principles without compromising their ability regulate in the public interest.

"We believe that governments can fully implement these principles while still preserving the authority to adopt and maintain measures necessary to regulate in the public interest to pursue certain public policies. We further believe that governments should not seek to attract foreign investment by weakening or failing to apply such measures," the joint statement said.

More information on U.S.-EU cooperation and the text of the shared principles is available on the USTR website.

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