European Union agrees to launch negotiations with US to avoid a trade war

A sculpture of Euro symbol is pictured in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, May 2, 2018. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — European Union nations agreed on Monday to launch trade talks with the United States to avoid a trade war with Washington despite Paris’s refusal to negotiate with an anti-climate partner.

“If the Americans agree to start the negotiations, I think we will be able to move forward very quickly,” EU Trade Commissioner Sissia Malmstrom, who is in charge of negotiations on behalf of the 28 EU countries, stressed.

France voted against the launch of the negotiations at a conference of European agriculture ministers in Luxembourg, but it had no effect because the European Union’s trade decisions were taken by a majority described, according to several European sources.

The vote dealt with the mandate of the European Commission mandated to negotiate on behalf of the Union.

He described Paris’ position as “incomprehensible” because its partners agreed to all its requests for authorization, including the abandonment of the controversial draft treaty for the transatlantic trade and investment partnership, which was frozen in 2016, as well as an assessment of the consequences of differences in environmental legislation between the United States and the European Union Protection of some fishing products, according to one source.

France has decided to vote against negotiations with Washington for initial reasons because President Emmanuel Macron does not want to negotiate a trade deal with a country that decided in June 2017 to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement despite the United States’ approval of 194 countries in December 2015. A French source described the situation as “very political”.

The European Commission intends to begin negotiations with Washington “as soon as possible,” according to Cecilia Malmstrom, with the hope of reaching an agreement before the end of the mandate of this body on 31 October 2019.

“We will call them today to see when we can meet together, I can not predict any date, the decision is in their hands, we are ready,” the European negotiator said.

– Agriculture “red line” –

The EU put tough conditions on the US administration. Future agreement will be limited to industrial products without covering agriculture, services and public markets.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledged to continue in that direction. “Agriculture will not be part of the negotiations,” Malmstrom said.

European bargaining has stressed that “this is a red line.” But the United States does not want any negotiations that do not include agriculture, according to a European negotiator.

The Europeans also demand that the United States raise taxes on European cars, a highly sensitive sector for Germany.

“This is the main motivation for launching negotiations,” a European official told AFP. The decision in Washington before 18 May is the date for the expiration of the deadline for such sanctions.

The mandate also states that if the United States does not lift the sanctions imposed in June 2018 on European imports of steel and aluminum by the end of the negotiating period, the trade agreement will not come to light, at the will of France.

If the negotiations are to come to an end, the EU expects an increase in transatlantic exchanges of around 10 percent by 2033 in the sectors concerned, equivalent to 53 billion euros.

The EU imposes a tariff rate of 4.3 percent on industrial products imported from the United States. The United States, for its part, charges an average of 3.8 percent.

Negotiators aim to reduce all these ratios to zero, although they are already low in most of the sectors involved.

This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.

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