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April 15, 2019

European Union Sets Path For Trade Talks With United States

Last Thursday, the nations of the European Union (EU) agreed to engage in formal trade discussions with the United States. According to The Wall Street Journal, the EU bloc wants negotiators “to focus on slashing tariffs on industrial goods” instead of discussing agricultural issues.

The news comes nearly nine months after U.S. President Donald Trump and European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker reached an informal agreement “to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods” and “to reduce barriers and increase trade in services, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products, as well as soybeans.”

Under that pact, the two agreed to:

  • Resolve the steel and aluminum tariff issues and retaliatory tariffs;
  • Improve market access for all products;
  • Strengthen “strategic cooperation with respect to energy,”;
  • Close dialogue on standards “in order to ease trade, reduce bureaucratic obstacles, and slash costs”; and
  • Work jointly to “protect American and European companies better from unfair global trade practices” and to “work closely together with like-minded partners to reform the World Trade Organization and to address unfair trading practices, including intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, industrial subsidies, distortions created by state owned enterprises, and overcapacity.”

As part of last week’s decision to move forward, EU nations agreed that “negotiating directives for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) must be considered obsolete” since there was significant disagreement among the European bloc about agriculture issues and TTIP.