Aspiring for Zero Tariffs: EU & US Making Progress on Free Trade

Written by | Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

The European Union and the United States are hoping to achieve progress in their mutual free trade talks to ease tensions in the coming weeks and avoid further escalation of the on-going dispute. EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmströmmet last week with her US counterpart Robert Lighthizer in Brussels to discuss the implementation of the free trade agreement reached by the Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Trump earlier in July. Washington commented that the Monday meeting between Ms Malmström and MrLighthizer was constructive and both sides were hopeful to see some tangible results by November.

“Specifically, we hope for an early harvest in the area of technical barriers to trade,” the office of the US representative said. “We discussed how to move forward and identify priorities on both sides, and how to achieve concrete results in the short to medium term,” MsMalmström tweeted. She also urged to make further progress on the deal before November. Both leaders are to meet again later this month and hold further discussions in October to identify tariff and non-tariff barriers and ways to reduce them.

Both sides are now going to launch their domestic procedures to get negotiation mandates. MrLighthizer will start consulting with Congress to start talks with Europe on “long-term outcomes”. In Europe, the Commission will have to ask the EU Council for a negotiating mandate after the scoping exercise is concluded and both sides are aligned on which tariffs and barriers should be removed. MsMalmström said that the EU was ready to bring the tariffs down to zero if the US was willing to do the same. “If that would happen, it would be good for us economically and good for them,” she said when speaking at the European Parliament.

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