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            august 26, 2019

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EU US trade talks kick off as looming tariffs threaten discord


EU officials are engaging in talks to eliminate tariffs on industrial goods, following through on a political accord reached in July between President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, reports Bloomberg.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said she's determined to seal an agreement by the beginning of September.
Negotiations will start amid escalating transatlantic tensions, with the US having accused the EU of not acting in good faith and delaying the start of talks.
The EU sought the deal with the US president, in part to avoid levies Americans threaten on foreign automobiles and car parts.
"We are ready to move onto the next phase of EU-US relations," Ms Malmstrom said. "I am convinced that breaking down barriers to trade between us can be win-win."
President Trump's car-tariff warning, which would be based on the same national-security grounds used for controversial duties last year on foreign steel and aluminum, will weigh heavily on discussions, with the EU bristling over the idea that it poses a threat to the US.
Separately, the EU is considering hitting US goods ranging from handbags to helicopters with retaliatory tariffs of EUR10.2 billion (US$11.5 billion) in a dispute over subsidies to Boeing.
The plan follows a US threat to seek $11 billion in damages through duties on European goods to counter state aid to Airbus. The removal of transatlantic tariffs on industrial goods would expand US exports to the EU by 13 per cent and the bloc's shipments to the American market buy 10 per cent, the commission said in January.
The average tariff on non-farm products is 4.2 per cent in the EU and 3.1 per cent in the US, according to Brussels.
The EU made clear that agriculture would not be included in the discussions, with Ms Malmstrom saying this was "a red line for Europe." This could presage a fight with the US, which has insisted that farm goods be a part of the talks.

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