January 10, 2019 11:45 AM, EST

EU Trade Chief to Continue Talks With US

Cecilia Malmstrom European Union’s trade chief, Cecilia Malmstrom (Carolyn Kaster/Bloomberg News)

The European Union’s trade chief, Cecilia Malmstrom, will continue talks with her U.S. counterpart Jan. 10, after the two met earlier the week of Jan. 7 in an effort to tamp down escalating commercial tensions, according to the European Commission.

EU said after the first meeting that it was preparing to ask its member governments for the green light to start negotiating with the United States on a free-trade deal. Malmstrom and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will take stock of the technical work that continued after their Jan. 8 meeting, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Robert Lighthizer

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer (Zach Gibson/Bloomberg News)

The movement comes after EU and the United States in July reached a political agreement to “work together toward zero tariffs, zero nontariff barriers, and zero subsidies on nonauto industrial goods.’’ The EU is trying to stave off a threat from President Donald Trump to impose levies on foreign cars.

The European Commission said it has begun work on a draft mandate for a trans-Atlantic accord to cut duties on industrial goods. The commission also is drawing up a request for permission to reach an agreement with the United States on “conformity assessment,” part of a parallel push for deeper regulatory cooperation.