EU open to discussing cars, not farming in U.S. trade talks
* Mandates for industrial tariffs, conformity assessments
* Mandates need to be approved by EU countries
* July accord was on zero tariffs for non-auto industrial
(Adds U.S. trade deficit goal, EU parliament criticism)
By Philip Blenkinsop
BRUSSELS, Jan 18 (Reuters) - The European Union is willing
to discuss car tariffs but will not remove duties on farm
products in trade talks with the United States, its trade chief
said on Friday, setting it on a possible collision course with
The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for
the 28 member European Union, published two negotiating mandates
on Friday, which were notable more for what they left out than
for what they included.
The EU proposal on tariffs falls far short of the
wide-ranging wish-list, including comprehensive agricultural
market access, set out by U.S. President Donald Trump's
administration a week ago.
"There is a lot that is not covered. We are not proposing
any negotiations with the U.S. to reduce or eliminate (duties)
on agricultural products," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia
Malmstrom told a news conference.
"That area was left outside, like many other topics where it
would be difficult to reach an agreement," she continued, adding
that the EU was not planning to restart the broad negotiations
dubbed TTIP, which drew thousands to streets in Europe in
Last week's 17-page list of U.S. objectives began by saying
that the United States wanted to reduce its trade deficit with
the European Union - which was 119.6 billion euros ($136
billion) in 2017, according to EU statistics office Eurostat,
almost a third of which was related to cars and car parts.
The section of the U.S. document on agriculture includes a
reference to trade commitments for products developed through
biotechnologies, which could include hormone-treated beef banned
in Europe and GM crops currently given to EU livestock, but not
directly eaten by people.
EU READY TO PUT CARS ON TABLE
The two EU negotiating mandates will need to be approved by
EU governments. One would lead to talks on removing tariffs from
industrial goods and the other on rules to allow testing bodies
in the United States to clear products for sale in the European
Union and vice versa.
Any deal would have to be approved by the European
Parliament. The head of its trade committee, German Social
Democrat Bernd Lange, said the bloc should not be negotiating
with Washington while metal tariffs were in place and car
tariffs threatened. A deal should also include workers' rights
and environmental standards, he said.
The EU and United States reached an entente in July, ending
a stand-off of several months, when Trump agreed to hold off
imposing tariffs on EU car imports while the two sides looked to
improve trade ties.
The parties committed to work towards removing existing
tariffs on "non-auto industrial goods" and to discuss standards
strengthen energy cooperation, while the EU said it wanted to
import more U.S. liquefied natural gas.
They would also look into U.S. import tariffs that EU steel
and aluminium producers have faced since June.
Malmstrom said the proposed EU mandate on tariffs did
"We also saw that the U.S. did not exclude cars from their
negotiating directives. We are prepared to put our vehicle
tariffs on the negotiating table as part of a broader agreement
if the U.S. agrees to work together towards zero tariffs for all
industrial goods," she said.
($1 = 0.8773 euros)
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Raissa Kasolowsky
and Toby Chopra)
First Published: 2019-01-18 14:00:16
Updated 2019-01-18 17:33:59
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