U.S. Trade Representative chief agriculture negotiator Gregg Doud calls European Union protectionist measures “non-science-based” and “backward-looking.” The comments signal a fight ahead between the EU and the U.S. before the two nations discuss a trade agreement, according to Bloomberg.
The U.S. is seeking a trade negotiation with the EU that includes agriculture, but the EU is not receptive to the idea. Agriculture policies differ greatly between the EU and the U.S., something Doud says is “shocking,” regarding the direction the EU is heading “when it comes to the use of science and technology in agriculture.”
Farm production in the region is subsidized and measures including controls on approvals of genetically-modified products which keep some American goods from going into the market. And, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom has insisted that agriculture would not be included in trade talks with the United States. The Trump administration, however, is seeking “comprehensive access.” For U.S. farm goods in any trade agreement with the European Union.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is demanding the Trump Administration force the European Union to include agriculture in upcoming trade talks. A group of 114 lawmakers penned a letter this week to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stating, “an agreement with the EU that does not address trade in agriculture would be, in our eyes, unacceptable.”
The U.S. and EU recently reached a tentative agreement to allow the U.S. access to the EU hormone-free beef quota, but the EU is pushing back against talking ag in a broader trade negotiation. The group of lawmakers say any agreement between the EU and the U.S. without agriculture “would be deficient, significantly jeopardizing Congressional support.” USTR Lighthizer does seem to agree, telling lawmakers earlier this week that the U.S. “cannot have a trade deal with the EU without agriculture,” adding “we’re at a stalemate and we’ll see how that develops.”
The letter was organized by House Republicans Jackie Walorksi and Virginia Foxx, along with House Democrats Ron Kind and Angie Craig.
Preliminary trade discussions between Washington and Brussels aren’t going well. In fact, Politico says the talks now appear to basically be an effort to not jump into a full-on trade war.
That possibilities potentially include new U.S. tariffs being slapped on automobiles. The two sides can’t even seem to agree on how the negotiations should proceed. The U.S. wants greater access to Europe’s agricultural markets. However, EU officials say that topic is a deal-breaker. They fear potential backlash from the EU’s politically powerful bloc of farmers. Brussels wants to get rid of tariffs on the industrial goods it ships to the U.S., including cars. However, President Trump is determined to protect American manufacturing. Politico says the stalemate over agricultural negotiations appears to be dimming hopes for a comprehensive transatlantic trade deal even before official negotiations get going.
To keep the U.S. president at the negotiating table, the EU has agreed to boost U.S. soy imports by allowing the use of crops subsidized for biofuel production. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross originally had a deadline of February 19th to make recommendations to the president regarding possible duties on auto imports. However, the government shutdown may have delayed that. Once the recommendations are made, Trump will have 90 days to make a decision The EU Parliament’s Trade Committee vote this month on whether or not to formally oppose the U.S.-EU negotiations.