Preliminary trade discussions between Washington and Brussels aren’t going well. In fact, Politico says the talks now appear to basically be an effort to not jump into a full-on trade war.
That possibilities potentially include new U.S. tariffs being slapped on automobiles. The two sides can’t even seem to agree on how the negotiations should proceed. The U.S. wants greater access to Europe’s agricultural markets. However, EU officials say that topic is a deal-breaker. They fear potential backlash from the EU’s politically powerful bloc of farmers. Brussels wants to get rid of tariffs on the industrial goods it ships to the U.S., including cars. However, President Trump is determined to protect American manufacturing. Politico says the stalemate over agricultural negotiations appears to be dimming hopes for a comprehensive transatlantic trade deal even before official negotiations get going.
To keep the U.S. president at the negotiating table, the EU has agreed to boost U.S. soy imports by allowing the use of crops subsidized for biofuel production. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross originally had a deadline of February 19th to make recommendations to the president regarding possible duties on auto imports. However, the government shutdown may have delayed that. Once the recommendations are made, Trump will have 90 days to make a decision The EU Parliament’s Trade Committee vote this month on whether or not to formally oppose the U.S.-EU negotiations.
Washington, D.C. – Conservation practices required for U.S. soybean production meet EU sustainability standards, and biodiesel produced from documented soybeans can now be used in the EU, the European Commission has formally announced.
The EU requires biofuels to meet a set of sustainability criteria outlined in its Renewable Energy Directive (RED). The U.S. soy industry has its own sustainability guideline, the Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP) that, with this announcement, the EU acknowledges meets its rigorous RED requirements.
Davie Stephens, a soybean grower from Clinton, Ky., and American Soybean Association (ASA) president said, “U.S. farmers have long prided themselves on adopting newer and better methods for producing high-quality soybeans that are grown responsibly and sustainably. The SSAP sets a high standard that demonstrates that commitment, and we are pleased that the EU Commission has recognized our efforts by opening the door for SSAP-certified soybeans to be used in EU biodiesel.”
The United States is the lead supplier of soybeans to the EU, and while this announcement applies only to soybeans exported for biodiesel, ASA sees it as a positive step for enhancing its EU market and validating the quality of the SSAP sustainability initiative. The EU’s decision will remain in place through at least July 1, 2021.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is insisting to keep agriculture out of the EU-U.S. trade negotiations despites Washington’s wishes to include the vast sector.
The EU Commission announced Friday its proposals for a negotiating mandate from the 28 member states and said that the EU negotiations will be “strictly focused on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agricultural products.”
EU Trade Chief Cecilia Malmstrom insisted also that she is preparing a target list of American products it will hit with punitive tariffs if the Trump administration goes through with its threat to impose tariffs on European auto imports.
The Trump Administration included a range of agricultural demands in its list of formal objectives for trade talks with the European Union. That list came out late last week when EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom was in Washington to visit with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Malmstrom reiterated last week that the EU will not be negotiating on agriculture. However, Reuters notes that if a wide-ranging trade deal is to be accomplished, something will have to give. The administration wants to bring down tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agricultural goods that are a result of European skepticism about American agricultural practices, especially biotechnology. Agriculture has been a big sticking point in recent attempts to establish a trade deal between the U.S. and EU.
Malmstrom told reports after the meeting with Lighthizer that the parameters of the discussions haven’t been decided yet. The USTR push to crank up full-fledged negotiations comes after a meeting in December with ag groups that pushed hard for their products to be included in the discussion. Now that the U.S. objectives have been made public, the USTR could be ready to start negotiations as soon as 30 days from now.
The European Union’s executive body is supporting Poland’s slaughter of wild boars as a way of protecting farm pigs and meat production from the deadly African swine fever.
The government’s decision to shoot some 200,000 wild boars this hunting season has drawn wide public protests but veterinary and Polish environment officials insist it’s an approved method.
Massive boar hunts are planned for remaining weekends this month.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission, Anna-Kaisa Itkonen said Friday in Brussels that properly done, the shooting of wild boars, which spread the virus, is one of the ways of stopping the disease.
The disease, which is spreading in eastern Poland, threatens Europe’s pork industry.
Poland Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski noted that Germany killed over 800,000 wild boars last year as a precaution.