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US moves to ease cost burden for European company listings

White House National Economic Council director Al Hubbard signaled Thursday American moves to help pave the way for European companies to list on US stock markets.

He was speaking in Berlin following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel as part of the Transatlantic Economic Council, which was established earlier this year to promote the creation of a transatlantic single market. Hubbard told reporters that because of accounting standard differences the cost for many non-American companies of listing in the US was both expensive and burdensome. Merkel proposed the idea of creating the council as part of a push to reduce trade barriers between the US and Europe and to harmonize product regulation and standards. “Hopefully this is the beginning of tangible results from the (council) initiative,” said Hubbard with both the US and Europe seeking improvements in transatlantic financial and accounting standards. However, Hubbard also conceded that the resolving regulatory problems between US and Europe would be difficult and require considerable political will on both sides of the Atlantic.

For its part, the US also wants Europe to end restrictions on US farm products treated with pathogens and for both sides to bring product standards into line. In particular this included closer cooperation on vehicle safety along as well as on the burgeoning new area of biofuels. The plan to set up the council was considered to the key foreign success of Germany's six-month European Union presidency, which runs out on Saturday. Its creation follows long-running pressure from business on both sides of the Atlantic for steps to be taken to reduce non-tariff barriers between the US and Europe. Reflecting the strong backing the proposal has received from Washington, the council's membership US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez.

EU commissioners Peter Mandelson, Charlie McCreevy and Benita Ferrero-Waldner are to represent Europe on the council, which is expected to meet twice-yearly. A special advisory panel including leading business figures from both sides of the Atlantic is also to be set up. (