Gains from Harmonizing US and EU Auto Regulations under the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

Caroline Freund (PIIE) and Sarah Oliver (PIIE)
Policy Brief
June 2015

Regulatory standards protect consumers from defective products, but they impede trade when they differ across countries. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) seeks to reduce distortions in the automobile and other industries. Freund and Oliver evaluate the equivalence of automobile regulations in the United States and the European Union in terms of catastrophe avoidance and estimate the trade gains from harmonization. The UN 1958 Agreement on automobiles, which harmonizes regulations among signatories, is used to quantify the trade effect of regulatory convergence. The removal of regulatory differences in autos is estimated to increase trade by 20 percent or more. The effect on trade from harmonizing standards is only slightly smaller than the effect of EU accession on auto trade. The large economic gains from regulatory harmonization imply that TTIP has the potential to improve productivity while lowering prices and enhancing variety for consumers.

Data disclosure: The data underlying the figures in this analysis are available here [zip].