Early last year, the United States and the European Union levied import tariffs on one another following Washington’s decision to impose trade protectionist measures on metal imports. However, in July, the two sides agreed on cooperation aimed at lowering the trade barriers.
The European Union published on Friday its plan for a “limited” trade deal with the United States, the AFP news agency reports.
“It is not a traditional (trade deal)… it is a limited but important proposal engaged on industrial goods tariffs only,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.
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Later in the day, German Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier has welcomed negotiating directives for trade talks with the United States on removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers in trade of industrial goods.
“I welcome the European Commission’s mandates presented today for negotiations with the United States on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods and conformity assessment. As soon as the Council [of the European Union] supports this, negotiations can begin. Then we will talk specifically with our US friends about the removal of unwanted tariffs on industrial goods. The goal is to break down barriers and build a new transatlantic trade ‘bridge,'” Altmaier said.
This comes after EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom’s 11 January announcement of the EU and the US engaging in talks on a bilateral trade deal seeking to abolish tariffs on industrial goods.
Prior to that, Washington and Brussels were locked in an escalating trade row, as the EU filed a complaint to the WTO over US metal tariffs, which affected $7.3 billion worth of metal imports from the bloc. The EU responded by imposing duties on $3.3 billion worth of US products, including steel, agricultural products, food staples, vessels, and clothing. But on July 25, US President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker came to a consensus to refrain from imposing any new tit-for-tat tariffs while negotiating future arrangements for trans-Atlantic trade.