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12th Aug 2022

EU repeats demand for energy chapter in US trade treaty

The EU's trade chief has reiterated his demands for the US to include an energy chapter as part of a trans-Atlantic free trade deal.

"It is important that we come forward with a position on that [energy agreement] as soon as possible, because maybe you may have noticed that some things are going on in Europe," Karel de Gucht told reporters on Tuesday (9 September), according to Reuters.

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"I cannot imagine that there will ever be a TTIP without such [energy] provisions," he added.

De Gucht was in Washington to meet US trade representative Mike Froman ahead of the next round of talks between trade negotiators on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in the US capital at the end of this month.

Securing an energy chapter has long been a key priority for the Europeans. A leaked strategy paper from the European Commission earlier this summer argued that “it should not be difficult to establish a chapter with rules on trade and investment in energy and raw materials”.

The ongoing sanctions battle with Russia as a result of the Ukraine crisis has increased the EU's desire to break free from its dependence on Russian gas.

Specifically, the EU wants the US to ease its rules on exporting oil and gas so that exports to the EU would be automatically approved, removing a public interest test that the US government conducts before approving any sales. This would make it easier for European countries to access US supplies of natural gas and oil.

For their part, US officials remain non-committal.

“We’re not sure what the EU ask is on energy," US ambassador in Brussels, Anthony Gardner told reporters in July.

"Just concluding a free trade agreement will give quasi-automatic approval for exports of liquified natural gas", he added.

But loosening export rules could lead to higher energy prices for US consumers, who have benefited from a near 50 percent fall in energy prices over the past five years, largely as a result of the shale gas boom.

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