EU trade chief says no support in Europe for US trade deal that includes agriculture
The European Union will not support a comprehensive trade deal with the United States that includes agriculture, the EU's top trade negotiator said on Thursday, so she is working toward a narrower deal focused on industrial goods and automobiles.
The European Union's trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, said at a Georgetown Law School event that an industrial goods agreement could be achieved more quickly and could rebuild trust between the two largest trading blocs that had been eroded by U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum.
"If we start with industrial goods, which is much less complicated, and which will be beneficial from both sides, we maybe can rebuild that trust and then maybe we’ll see later" about agriculture, she said a day after meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The EU and the United States spent three years trying to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), but the talks failed to bridge gaps on allowing more U.S. access to Europe for agricultural products, including genetically modified crops, wine and cheese.
"A full, comprehensive trade agreement - TTIP-style: there is no support for that in the European Union right now. That’s the truth," Malmstrom said.
Europe has retaliated against the Trump administration's tariffs on EU-produced steel and aluminum based on national security grounds, imposing tariffs on a range of U.S. products from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to bourbon whiskey.
U.S. President Donald Trump is currently considering whether to impose similar "Section 232" tariffs on imported autos and auto parts on national security grounds, an action widely seen as a tool to gain negotiating leverage over the EU and Japan to lower their tariffs and non-tariff barriers to U.S. auto imports.
Trump pledged last year to European Union President Jean Claude Juncker that he would not impose such tariffs on EU-made cars as long as there is progress in the negotiations.