EU Sours on Reviving Trade-Pact Push With U.S. Amid Tariffs Row

Date: Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Source: Bloomberg

The European Union distanced itself from the idea of reviving talks on a broad free-trade agreement with the U.S. as part of EU efforts to gain a permanent exemption from President Donald Trump’s controversial import tariffs on steel and aluminum.

A day after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the Trump administration is willing to restart negotiations on the stalled Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the European Commission said it’s seeking a “dialog” with Washington “on issues of common interest” including global steel overcapacity.

“More contacts will be held in the coming weeks to agree the exact scope and framework of this EU-U.S. dialog,” a spokesman for the commission, the 28-nation EU’s executive arm in Brussels, said on Friday. “The commission is committed to engage in this process in an open and constructive way. However, it should be clear that this dialog does not represent the revival of the process for a comprehensive Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”

The TTIP negotiations to expand the world biggest economic relationship have been frozen since Trump entered the White House with an “America First” agenda that has shunned multilateral trade initiatives. This extended to the completed Trans-Pacific Partnership, from which Trump withdrew.

“He terminated the trans-Pacific deal; he didn’t terminate TTIP,” Ross said in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Thursday. “That was meant quite deliberately and quite overtly as a message that we’re open to discussions with the European Commission.”

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