US-EU negotiating on trade policy; LNG, soya beans, industrial goods main concern
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem was due to meet with US officials again Thursday as they worked to resolve trade frictions, which resulted in the exchange of billions in tariffs last year. After the first day of talks Wednesday, Malmstroem told reporters the European Union was steadfast in its refusal to include agriculture in negotiations even though Europe had increased purchases of US commodities. "As demonstrated by recent developments and figures concerning Liquefied Natural Gas and soya beans, we are delivering," a European Commission spokesman said Thursday in an email.
Malmstroem said the European Commission is developing negotiating mandates for a possible deal with the United States to eliminate tariffs on industrial goods. European leaders last year were outraged after US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. Brussels responded by slapping counter-tariffs on more than USD 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 so long as talks continued neither side would impose additional tariffs.
Malmstroem said she expects the US to abide by an agreement to exempt the EU from any new tariffs on autos -- a measure Trump is considering. US, EU and Japanese officials also met Wednesday to discuss proposed reforms to World Trade Organization rules that would address unfair trade practices -- a move is widely seen as a common front against China, which Washington accuses of massive state-intervention in markets and theft of intellectual property.
(With inputs from agencies.)