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January 21, 2019

‘Zero tariffs’ on agenda for EU-US trade talks

Brussels has set out its negotiating objectives as part of planned EU-US trade talks, with the focus on two points: conformity assessment and the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods.

By Hannah Abdulla

Brussels has set out its negotiating objectives as part of planned EU-US trade talks, with the focus on two points: conformity assessment and the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods.

The US and European Union first mooted plans in July to hold talks to “work toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies.” 

And last week the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) released negotiating objectives in 24 areas for a potential trade deal with the EU, including plans to secure duty-free access for US textile and apparel products and improve competitive opportunities for the sector’s exports.

On Friday (18 January), the European Commission’s negotiating directives were submitted to the Council. The points they cover include: a trade agreement strictly focused on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agricultural products; and a second agreement, on conformity assessment, that would help address the objective of removing non-tariff barriers, by making it easier for companies to prove their products meet technical requirements on both sides of the Atlantic.

The proposals have now been passed to the member states for approval.

“Today’s publication of our draft negotiating directives is part of the implementation of the July joint statement of Presidents Juncker and Trump,” said EU Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström.

“Ambassador Lighthizer and I have already met several times in the Executive Working Group and I have made it very clear that the EU is committed to upholding its side of the agreement reached by the two presidents. These two proposed negotiating directives will enable the Commission to work on removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to transatlantic trade in industrial goods, key goals of the July Joint Statement.”

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