The negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) are just beginning, but nearly every industry in the US and Europe has identified an opportunity to benefit from the deal. One particularly optimistic industry is Europe’s small-batch beer and wine producers, eager to tap into a flourishing American market.

POLITICO reports that these small-batch European producers see the TTIP as an opportunity to flatten certain taxes and shipping costs to make it possible to expand the selection of products available to US consumers.

“Everybody wants to be in the North American market,” said William Earle, president of the National Association of Beverage Importers, the group leading the charge on the U.S. side. “Our economy is stable, [and] we have a population interested in trying new products.”

Under the TTIP, excise tax credits, provided to US producers, will become available to qualifying European producers. The elimination of regulatory differences could increase the selection of European-imported wine and beer on American shelves as well as competition.

For more on the benefits of the TTIP on this industry, and other pending legislation, view the full story on POLITICO.com.

2013 saw the dawn of many trade talks between the US and nations around the world. It was a year of potential for, not only the US, but for the world economy, setting the stage for economic growth and new international trade initiatives to come in the New Year. Here is a review of the developments in 2013:

-          The US has free trade agreements (FTAs) with 20 countries

-          The US is currently negotiating two other multilateral FTAs (the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) which could result in FTAs with another 34 countries

-          The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) encompasses the US and 11 other countries, which include 793 million consumers. Negotiations for this agreement have been ongoing since 2005. 2014 looks to bring yet another round for the US and, what some in the industry believe, may be a conclusion.

-          The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) just saw the start of its negotiations in 2013. According to Apparel News, this massive deal would account for 60 percent of the world’s gross domestic product and 33 percent of the international trade in goods.

For more on the ongoing negotiations, view the full article here.

Starting in May of 2014, impending US regulation will require publicly-traded manufacturers to disclose whether the metals in their products are conflict free.  Why? Section 1502 of the  Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law in 2010, dictates that publically-traded companies report the use of conflict minerals (tantalum, tin, tungsten, and gold) from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and neighboring countries — Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo Republic, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

[caption id="attachment_5545" align="alignright" width="300"]PHOTO via National Geographic PHOTO via National Geographic[/caption]

The industries that could be most affected by this new requirement to disclose the use of conflict minerals include healthcare, industrial manufacturing, electronics, aerospace, jewelry and automotive.

What classifies a mineral as a conflict mineral? Conflict minerals are those that are mined under hostile and harsh conditions. The miners are working by force under difficult conditions and with tools lacking efficiency.  According to Wikipedia, the US Conflict Minerals Law, also known as the Dodd-Frank Act,  contains two requirements that are closely connected: independent third party supply chain traceability audits and reporting of audit information to the public and SEC. However, even companies not directly regulated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) will be impacted by the audit requirements because the requirements will be pushed down through entire supply chains, including privately held and foreign-owned companies.

Will you have to submit an annual conflict minerals report?  That depends on two key but critical concepts – are you required to file reports with the SEC, and two, are conflict minerals necessary to the functionality or production of the product you manufacture or are contracted to manufacture?  If both of these are true statements, then your company will be responsible for filing an annual conflict minerals report.

The efforts to track these minerals are an ongoing. View our past posts on the Conflict Mineral Reporting Requirement and Conflict Mineral Laws.

The full text of the Dodd-Frank Act can be found here, while a FAQ from the Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) can be accessed here.