Lobbyists Get Head Start on Potential EU Trade Accord

From Bloomberg Government’s Congress Tracker blog

More than two dozen companies, trade associations and farm groups already had a head start lobbying on a potential trade accord with the European Union
when President Barack Obama announced in his Feb. 12 State of the Union address the start of negotiations with the 27-nation economic bloc.

Lobbyists representing more than a dozen multinational companies, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Wal-Mart Stores  Inc., ramped up efforts in the second half of 2012 to influence Congress and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on EU trade issues and a prospective deal, according to lobbying disclosure filings with the House Clerk’s Office.

The automobile industry was active in lobbying on a  potential deal that would eliminate tariffs and other trade barriers between the U.S. and the EU. Toyota Motor Corp., Chrysler Group LLC and Daimler AG specified a future U.S.-EU agreement in their lobbying disclosure filings. Under a prospective deal, Toyota and other automakers with a significant manufacturing capacity in the U.S. may be able to export vehicles duty-free from the U.S. to the EU, which now charges a 10 percent tariff on cars.

To make their case, companies employed former staff members of congressional committees that would have to approve any future deal. Chrysler reported lobbying on EU trade issues by Alex Perkins, a former trade staffer for Sander Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. JPMorgan employed Kimberly Ellis, a former legislative director for Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican; she now works for the Monument Policy Group.

Multinational companies with large transatlantic businesses also lobbied on a future EU deal, according to Bloomberg data and lobbying filings. U.S.-based lobbyists for U.K.-based drug maker AstraZeneca PLC, which made more than 60 percent of its revenue from the U.S. and Europe in 2012, reported work on trade barriers between the U.S. and the EU.

Also lobbying on a future deal was Cincinnati-based consumer products manufacturer Procter & Gamble Co., which made about 20 percent of its revenue from western Europe in the year that ended June 30, 2012. U.S. lobbyists for French telecommunications firm Alcatel-Lucent SA, which made about two-thirds of its revenue from the U.S. and Europe in 2011, also cited trade issues with Europe in 2012 filings.

Dairy farmers and poultry producers made their case on EU trade to Congress and the Obama administration. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, and the panel’s ranking Republican, Orrin Hatch of Utah, said in a Feb. 13 letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk that congressional support for the deal depends on the removal of EU policies hampering U.S. agricultural exports.

What do you think about this article? Comment below!