The U.S. and EU have made little progress toward lowering industrial goods tariffs after President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker last July agreed to pursue a bilateral trade agreement, commission Director-General for Trade Sabine Weyand said Monday.
“We have a mandate to negotiate the elimination of industrial tariffs,” Weyand (pictured) said during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. “But there has not been much of a take-up so far on the U.S. side, so I’m interested to explore why this is the case and what can be done to unblock this.”
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) didn’t immediately comment.
Weyand will visit the USTR this week during her first visit to the U.S. as the European Commission’s director-general for trade, after starting in the position on June 1.
During the CSIS event, she noted that there are officials in the U.S. who say a U.S.-EU trade agreement that lowers industrial goods tariffs shouldn’t be considered if agriculture is not included in the scope of the deal.
Weyand noted that the negotiating mandate excludes agriculture.
“In the current circumstances, we need to build trust while making progress on concrete issues, and we have the substance to do that,” she said. “I think we can see where this process takes us over time. But I don’t think that the fact that we have different concepts of what, ideally, should’ve been in the mandate should prevent us from moving forward in the areas that we agree that we want to cooperate.”
She also said she hopes for a resolution in the Boeing/Airbus dispute that avoids tariffs imposed by either the U.S. or EU.
USTR in April and July released preliminary lists of EU products marked for tariffs as the U.S. awaits a determination from a World Trade Organization arbitrator regarding any countermeasures the U.S. may impose on the EU in connection with a dispute over subsidies paid to aircraft manufacturer Airbus. The lists would affect a total of $25 billion worth of yearly imports from the EU.
Further, the European Commission in April released a preliminary product list covering $20 billion in yearly U.S. exports on which the EU may impose tariffs in connection with a dispute over subsidies paid to Boeing.
“Rather than going down the spiral again, of measures on both sides, we would like to find a resolution to the issue, and then make that position of sanctions superfluous,” Weyand said.