BRUSSELS—Representatives from the U.S. failed to show up at a working committee meeting for the harmonization of international tire production and trade rules, under the Global Technical Regulations.
A source close to the talks told European Rubber Journal, a sister publication of Rubber & Plastics News, that the U.S., although expected to take part, did not appear in the talks that took place in Brussels mid-February.
The GTR aims at freeing up tire trade globally and to standardize regulations in order to reduce market-entry barriers and facilitate trade among participating countries.
The source said the working committee 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 UN on Nov. 14, despite the U.S. abstaining from the vote.
Other countries, including China, South Korea, India, Canada and Russia as well as the European Union, voted for the new standarized regulations. The second phase of the standards will cover negotiations surrounding 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 did they got involved, and suddenly at the last minute they realized they did not have enough resources?” said the contact.
Another source close to negotiations and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership confirmed 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 EU tire exports, yet both sides have strong divergent approaches to regulations and market surveillance.
The EU is system is based on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe 1958 agreement regulation, while the U.S. one is based on regulations set forth by the DOT-NHTSA.