With Talks on Ice, Deadline Slips for EU Trade Deal With US

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Bloomberg News

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The European Union won’t clinch a trade deal with the U.S. by Nov. 1 as originally targeted, according to the bloc’s chief trade negotiator.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom reiterated that the EU is prepared to make a limited agreement with the U.S. that would remove tariffs on industrial goods. However, she told reporters in Stockholm on Aug. 23 that “those discussions haven’t started yet as the U.S. wants to include agricultural products, and that is not what the EU wants.”

When asked if a deal could be clinched by the end of the European Commission’s current term, which expires at the end of October, Malmstrom said, “The limited agreement is not going to be in place as we haven’t started talks yet.” She said as recently as May that she hoped a deal could be struck during her term.

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President Donald Trump and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reached a political agreement in July 2018 that set out the framework for an accord. The deal would slash industrial tariffs between the regions and suspend a U.S. threat to impose tariffs on European automobile exports. Little progress has been made in discussions, with the U.S. focusing more of its attention on the trade war with China.

The EU has identified 35 billion euros ($39 billion) of U.S. goods it would hit with retaliatory tariffs should Trump follow through with his auto threat. A 25% U.S. levy on foreign cars would add 10,000 euros to the sticker price of EU vehicles imported into the country, according to the Brussels-based commission.

“We have the threat on cars and car parts still hanging over us,” Malmstrom said. “There we have a new deadline in the middle of November.”