On May 1, 2012, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) entitled “Promoting International Regulatory Cooperation,” which is intended to ensure that differing regulatory approaches taken by foreign governments do not unnecessarily limit the ability of American businesses to export and compete internationally. EO 13563, which Obama signed on January 18, 2011, states that the U.S. regulatory system must protect public health, welfare, safety, and the environment while promoting economic growth, innovation, competitiveness, and job creation. The May 1, 2012, EO calls for the Regulatory Working Group established by Executive Order 12866, and reaffirmed by EO 13563, to serve as a forum to discuss, coordinate, and develop a common understanding among agencies of U.S. government positions and priorities with respect to: international regulatory cooperation activities that are reasonably anticipated to lead to significant regulatory actions; efforts across the federal government to support significant, cross-cutting international regulatory cooperation activities; and promotion of good regulatory practices internationally, as well as the promotion of U.S. regulatory approaches, as appropriate.

Of significance to nanotechnology stakeholders, the EO calls for the Regulatory Working Group to examine appropriate strategies for engaging in the development of regulatory approaches through international regulatory cooperation, “particularly in emerging technology areas.” The Chair of the Regulatory Working Group is Cass R. Sunstein, Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Sunstein wrote a May 1, 2012, blog item on the EO, and requested comments on how to “reduce red tape and unjustified costs by increasing regulatory cooperation, in North America and beyond.”