Increasing and Improving International Regulatory Cooperation

Increasing and Improving International Regulatory Cooperation

Post by: Adam Schlosser[1], U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Increasingly, the barriers between the United States and the rest of the world are only artificial.  Before even leaving for work in the morning, the average American navigates across the world many times.  He or she might wake up safely in his or her bed (designed in Sweden), turn off the alarm clock (made in South Korea), get dressed (with clothes made in Vietnam and shoes made in Italy), make coffee (produced in Colombia with a coffee maker manufactured in Canada), eat breakfast (with eggs from a local U.S. farm and fruit grown in Chile), boot up his or her laptop (manufactured in Japan with parts made in South Korea, China, and the U.S.), and finally get in his or her car (built in the U.S. with parts made in Germany).  Ensuring these typical morning activities are completed without a hitch are many regulatory decisions and actions by U.S. regulators and their foreign counterparts. We exist in an interconnected international marketplace, and actions of U.S. regulators increasingly affect – and in turn are impacted by – the actions of their international counterparts.   International regulatory cooperation activities are fundamental to fulfilling administrative agencies’ regulatory objective related to health, safety, the environment, etc.  Furthermore, regulators engaged in international regulatory cooperation are increasingly in a position to aid in boosting U.S. trade and competitiveness.  These two benefits are not inconsistent with one another and can often be achieved simultaneously. Engaging in international regulatory cooperation makes the job of regulators easier by efficiently allocating resources through cooperation with like-minded foreign counterparts.  These actions can also lead to enhanced consumer protections as competing regulatory frameworks become more aligned, assuring higher levels of protection.  Cost-savings can be achieved without diminished regulatory returns.  Regulatory cooperation is about a smarter, more efficient regulatory process.  It is time to stop focusing on regulatory divergences and start coming together around a convergence of objectives. Additionally, the Obama Administration has consistently indicated that international regulatory cooperation is beneficial because it helps U.S. agencies more efficiently accomplish their statutory missions domestically and also because it aids U.S. competitiveness, promoting trade and exports, and creating jobs (See page 6 of OMB’s 2011 Report to Congress on the Costs and Benefits of Federal Regulations).  For instance, one recommendation of the 2011 Jobs Council Report touted regulatory cooperation and the removal of international regulatory divergences as a means towards job creation and growth. Many U.S. agencies have already undertaken ambitious international regulatory cooperation efforts.  For example, the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council features 29 specific work plans, each led by both a U.S. and a Canadian regulator, covering sectors including food and agriculture, personal care and pharmaceuticals, transportation, nanotech, and the environment.  However, more work can be done to raise the profile of other cooperation activities and to assure that regulators receive adequate recognition for the work they are doing.  This increased attention provides the dual benefit of raising awareness of these activities to interested stakeholders and allowing regulators to seek ideas on how to maximize opportunities. Twenty years ago, the Administrative Conference issued Recommendation 1991-1, which concerned federal agency cooperation with foreign government regulators.  This recommendation was prescient in recognizing the needs for U.S. regulators to engage with their foreign counterparts in order to satisfy their statutory mandates in a globalized economy.  In December 2011, the Conference, recognizing the increasingly intertwined nature of today’s global marketplace and the many different methods of maximizing the benefits of international regulatory cooperation, adopted Recommendation 2011-6: International Regulatory Cooperation. However, adoption of the new International Regulatory Cooperation Recommendation is merely a first step.  In order to realize all of the potential benefits, we must move from recommendation to implementation.  In this spirit, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Conference are pleased to co-host an Implementation Summit on May 1, 2012.[2]  The Implementation Summit will serve as a first step towards a long-term sustained plan of implementation and provide a forum to discuss a number of concerns. Some of the ideas we hope to explore at the Summit and beyond include:

  • What are the best practices of agencies currently engaged in international regulatory cooperation?
  • How can those best practices be transmitted to other agencies?
  • What methods work best?
  • With which foreign counterparts should agencies engaged?
  • What are the most productive methods for stakeholders to be actively involved?
  • What are some sectors especially ripe for international regulatory cooperation that aren’t currently being exploited?

In anticipation of the Implementation Summit, this will be the first of a series of posts examining different aspects of the International Regulatory Cooperation Recommendation and highlighting key successes and exciting opportunities.  I welcome any feedback or suggestions for future topics. Adam C. Schlosser Senior Manager, Center for Regulatory Cooperation U.S. Chamber of Commerce; 202.463.5580 For more information about the Implementation summit please visit


[1] First, I want to thank the fine people at the Administrative Conference for sharing the use of their blog space.  The Chamber greatly appreciates all their hard work and diligence.  The Chamber was pleased to partner with the Conference in April 2011 to host a program on the role and responsibility of regulatory agencies to engage in international regulatory cooperation, which set the stage for the Conference to review and update its 1991 International Regulatory Cooperation Recommendation.   The author was also thankful to represent the Chamber as one of the numerous, highly qualified, public and private stakeholders actively involved throughout the process leading to the adoption of the International Regulatory Cooperation Recommendation.   The Implementation Summit is a natural extension of this work and we look forward to a continued productive relationship with the Conference.
[2] In addition to considering potential means for implementing the International Regulatory Cooperation recommendation, the summit will also examine ways of implementing Recommendation 2011-5, which deals with agencies’ incorporating standards by reference into documents that they publish.  Given the prevalence of international standard setting and agencies’ incorporating many of those standards by reference, the workshop will provide an opportunity to consider some of the overlapping issues in these two significant areas.


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