European Parliament votes against launch of EU-US trade talks

Elias Hubbard
March 15, 2019

The European Parliament on Thursday, March 14, failed to back the launch of trade talks between the EU and the United States, dealing an unexpected blow to efforts to avert a trade war.

"They're willing to talk to us".

The original text, broadly supported by centre-right parties but opposed by the left of centre, had set out conditions for negotiations: to include cars, exclude agriculture and be suspended if Washington imposes new punitive tariffs.

However, leading MEPs voiced their concerns about opening negotiations with Trump while the steel and aluminium tariffs punishing European exporters remain in place.

The setback in parliament comes as debate over the contours of the deal already underlined deep transatlantic divisions, with the U.S. insisting that farming be included - an idea rejected by the EU. "We'll tariff a lot of their products coming in".

However, this remains a "red line" for the Europeans, especially in France, where the government is particularly reluctant to continue with the talks while tariffs are still in place.

The two sides ended a stand-off last July, when U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to hold off imposing tariffs on European Union vehicle imports while the two sides looked to improve trade ties.

The EU introduced "rebalancing" tariffs on about 2.8 billion euros worth ($3.4 billion) of USA steel, agricultural and other products.

"The European parliament stresses that the EU is now Russia's largest trading partner and will keep its position as key economic partner for the foreseeable future, but that Nord Stream 2 reinforces the EU's dependence on Russian gas supplies, threatens the EU internal market and is not in line with EU energy policy or its strategic interests, and therefore needs to be stopped", the parliamentary report says. If they don't talk to us we'll do something that will be severe economically.

Trump has held out the threat of slapping auto tariffs on European cars should the trade talks fail to progress.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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