EU sets out plans for ‘limited’ US trade deal
BRUSSELS, Jan 18, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – The EU on Friday published its negotiating
plans for a free trade deal with the United States, part of an effort to
avert a trade war with US President Donald Trump.
Negotiating a trade deal was included in a transatlantic truce secured last
year after the US slapped tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from the EU,
alarming the world.
The effort is also part of an effort to stop Trump from slapping tariffs on
European car imports, a danger that has especially unnerved export powerhouse
“It is not a traditional (trade deal)… it is a limited but important
proposal engaged on industrial goods tariffs only,” EU trade commissioner
Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters.
The process however has got off to a rocky start, with the US side last
week including agricultural products in their plans, which is an absolute no-
go for the Europeans.
“In this mandate, we are not proposing any reduction of tariffs on
agriculture. That area was left outside,” Malmstrom insisted.
The 17-page mandate submitted by the US also included other demands and
charges that are unacceptable for the EU, including that Europe stop
manipulating foreign exchange rates.
Given the split, the EU is entering the negotiations with trepidation,
especially since the threat of auto duties is still very much alive in
The commission handles trade negotiations for the EU’s 28 member states and
the plans must now be approved by the national governments before
negotiations actually start with Washington.
Brussels and member states are wary after the failure of the so-called TTIP
talks, a far more ambitious transatlantic trade plan which stalled amid fears
a deal with Washington would undermine EU food and health standards.
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Opposition by activists has already resurfaced with Friends of the Earth
Europe warning that “there can be no trade-offs on food standards” in the
EU governments were shell-shocked last year when Trump imposed tariffs on
metals imports as part of his “America First” protectionist vision.
Brussels responded by slapping counter-tariffs on more than $3 billion in
US exports like bourbon, blue jeans and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
But Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July
called a truce, agreeing that as both sides pursued a trade deal, neither
would impose additional tariffs.