EU is ready for limited trade agreement negotiations with the US

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom gives a press conference on EU-US Trade Talks in Brussels, Belgium, 15 April 2019.

EU is ready for limited trade agreement negotiations with the US


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The EU will start limited trade negotiations with the US as both sides hope to rebuild relations after a week after threatening each other with billions-of-euros in new tariffs over a dispute involving Airbus and Boeing, the world’s two largest aeroplane manufacturers.

EU ministers on Monday authorised talks to eliminate tariffs on industrial goods, following through on a political accord reached in July 2018 between European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and US President Donald J. Trump, as the two sought to head off a looming trans-Atlantic trade war after Trump slapped tariffs on imports of EU’s steel and aluminium.

European Commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström appeared before the press in Brussels, hopefully that the limited trade agreement could be finalised by the beginning of September.

The removal of tariffs on industrial goods would expand American exports to the EU by 13% and the bloc’s shipments to the US market by 10%, according to the EU’s own internal numbers that were published in January when the Commission drafted the negotiating mandate.

According to those numbers, the average tariff on non-farm products is 4.2% in the EU and 3.1% in the US.

“We are ready to move onto the next phase of EU-U.S. relations,” Malmström told journalists, suggesting that the Commission will now immediately reach out to the American side to set a date for talks. “I am convinced that breaking down barriers to trade between us can be a win-win,” added Malmström.

“I will now get in contact with our American partners with a view towards organising a date for the first round as soon as possible,” Malmström added. “If we agree to start, I think it can go quite quickly”.

Negotiations will start as the EU prepares to reveal a list of Amercan goods, from helicopters to handbags, that will be slapped with new retaliatory tariffs after Trump threatened to seek $11 billion in damages through duties on European goods to counter the substantial state aid handed out to Airbus.

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