EU's Council Approves Negotiations on Elimination of Tariffs with US
The EU and US will stick with trade talks even if Donald Trump decides to maintain tariffs on steel and aluminium after promising European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker a reassessment.

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The European Union (EU) now is ready to launch negotiations with United States (US) to eliminating trade tariffs, said the agency on Monday (04/16). It said, both will cover a strictly limited set of issues stemming from the July Joint Statement of EU’ Presidents Jean-Claude Juncker and US’ President Donald Trump.

The mandates also clarify that the negotiating directives for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreed in June 2013 must be considered obsolete and no longer relevant.The final agreement will need be concluded by the Council after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

In the negotiations, EU proposed that the two parties agreed on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods only, not including agricultural products. Secondly, both side aimed to eliminate non-tariff barriers, making it easier for companies to prove their products meet technical requirements both in the EU, while US to maintain a high level of protection in the EU.

In addition, the Council also decided to make both decisions that allowed the opening of negotiations with the US and accompanied by negotiation directions for the public.

“Today’ adoption of the EU negotiating directives gives a clear signal of the EU’ commitment to a positive trade agenda with the US and the implementation of the strictly defined work programme agreed by Presidents Trump and Juncker on 25 July 2018,” said Minister for Business Environment, Trade and Entrepreneurship of Romania and President of the Council Ștefan-Radu Oprea in a written statement.

Meanwhile, on behalf of the EU will ensured that communication is in line with all relevant stakeholders, including civil society and economic operators. The final agreement needs to be concluded by the Board after obtaining approval from the European Parliament.

As far as the agreement concerning elimination of industrial tariffs is concerned, the aim is to increase trade between the EU and the US, to increase market access and to generate new opportunities for employment and growth.

The mandate given by the Council ensures that negotiations will take full account of the specific sensitivity of certain items, such as energy-intensive products and fishery products, and environmental impacts arising from differences in EU and US frameworks.

The commission must produce a sustainability impact assessment as soon as possible which will examine the potential economic, environmental, and social impacts of this agreement, also keeping in mind the EU’ commitments in international agreements such as the Paris agreement on climate change.

“But let me be cleared, we will not speak about agriculture or public procurement. Another important element is that the environmental and social impact of the agreement will be fully taken into account during the negotiations,” said Oprea.

The findings of this impact assessment must be taken into account in the negotiation process.

The mandate also ensures that the EU will not complete negotiations with the US as long as the current tariffs for EU steel and aluminum exports are still valid, where the import duty rate is 25 percent against steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

The Commission also stressed that if the US wanted to impose further trade restrictions on European products, negotiations would still be delayed.

The EU and the US have the largest and deepest bilateral trade and investment relations in the world and have a very integrated economy. Both economies account for around half of all world GDP and around 30 percent of total world trade.

Written by Daniel Deha, Email: daniel@theinsiderstories.com