EU Wants Free-Trade Deal with U.S.

January 10, 2019

The European Union (EU) is expected to launch negotiations with the U.S. on a free-trade deal, hoping to counter President Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on foreign cars from Europe. The EU’s announcement followed a meeting in Washington between EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on last July’s agreement to remove trade barriers for trans-Atlantic commerce.

The European Commission said earlier this week that it has begun drafting an accord to cut duties on industrial goods, and it is preparing a request to the EU’s member states for permission to reach a “conformity assessment” agreement with the U.S. on regulatory cooperation, such as in the areas of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. The European Commission did not give a timetable for producing its drafts.

President Trump has threatened to impose a 25% tariff on foreign cars and auto parts, and the European Commission had estimated that such increased duties would add $11,453 to the sticker price of European-built autos imported into the U.S.  Last July’s agreement put the threatened auto tariffs on hold while the U.S. and EU “work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.’’

The EU also has been watching the trade talks between the U.S. and China, warning both Washington and Beijing this week to resolve their trade dispute, but ensure that any deal avoids discriminating against European companies.