EU gets green light for US trade talks

EU gets green light for US trade talks

EU countries gave initial clearance yesterday to start formal trade talks with the United States, EU sources said, in a move designed, but not guaranteed, to smooth strained relations between the world’s two largest economies.

The European Commission has sought clearance for two negotiating mandates – one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to make it easier for companies to show products meet EU or US standards.

The commission presented its mandates in January and found support from most EU members. France resisted, however, insisting that agriculture should not feature in the talks but that climate change provisions should – a difficult demand given US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement.

The EU and the US reached a detente last July when Trump agreed to hold off from imposing punitive tariffs on EU cars as the two sides sought to improve economic ties.

US tariffs still apply to EU steel and aluminium, however, while Trump has threatened further tariffs on €9.8bn of EU products related to a long-running aircraft subsidy dispute.

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