The European trade negotiators are in DC this week for the 3rd round of the TTIP talks. A little while back, I mentioned a paper on regulatory cooperation in the TTIP. It is now out in the JIEL. The main point is that regulatory cooperation can work, but we should keep things realistic, perhaps along the lines of the US-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) model.
But I wanted to mention a broader point that may be a little buried in the paper, one that we are developing further now in another paper: What exactly does everyone mean when they talk about "regulatory trade barriers" (or "non-tariff barriers")? These terms get thrown around all the time, without much clarity. I see regulatory trade barriers falling into one of three categories:
-- regulatory protectionism - measures purportedly designed for other policy purposes, but with a component that is intended to favor domestic actors
-- regulatory divergence - regulatory differences across countries, arising either arbitrarily or based on different policy preferences
-- regulatory reform - issues related to improving the regulatory process or the efficiency of regulation
Are there any other ways that regulation can affect trade? To me, these categories cover everything. If it's not one of these three issues, I'm not sure it is a problem, and we shouldn't worry about it.
The question then becomes, if these categories work as a framework, how do we deal with each one?
More on all this at some later point, but free free to offer comments now.