By Shahrzad Pourriahi, Crain News Service
BRUSSELS (Feb. 26, 2015) — U.S representatives failed to show up at a recent working committee meeting for the harmonization of international tire production and trade rules, under the Global Technical Regulations (GTR).
Speaking to European Rubber Journal (ERJ) — a sister publication of Tire Business — a source close to the talks said the U.S. side, although expected to take part, did not appear in the talks that took place in Brussels mid-February. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the U.S.'s designated representative at the talks.
The GTR aims at freeing up tire trade globally and to harmonize regulations in order to reduce market-entry barriers and facilitate trade among participating countries.
The working committee, said the source, was an expert-level meeting from which the Americans abstained.
“A new round of talks, at higher levels, is scheduled for March and the Americans might take part in that,” he said adding that at this stage directors from administrations with political authority would discuss the various stages of GTR and its further expansion.
Phase 1 of GTR was adopted by the World Forum on Automotive Regulations of the United Nations last November despite U.S.'s abstaining from the vote.
Other countries, including China, South Korea, India, Canada and Russia as well as the E.U., voted for the new harmonized regulations. The second phase of the standards will cover negotiations surrounding harmonized standards for commercial vehicles and light trucks tires.
The official reason given for the U.S. abstention is “lack of resources.”
“My understanding is that they don't have enough resources to invest in this project, which is fine. But why in the first place they got involved and suddenly at the last minute they realized they did not have enough resources?” the contact asked rhetorically.
Another source close to the negotiations and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also confirmed to ERJ that addressing issues surrounding noise reduction and wet grip could be costly for the U.S. tire industry and this could be the reason for U.S. abstention.
The U.S. is the second most important destination for European Union tire exports and yet both sides have strong divergent approaches to regulations and market surveillance.
The E.U. is system is based on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) 1958 agreement regulation, while the U.S. one is based on regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Commerce/NHTSA.
Shahrzad Pourriahi is a reporter for European Rubber Journal, a U.K.-based sister publication of Tire Business.