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U.S., EU still in 'exploratory' talks on trade: EU's Malmstrom

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The European Union and the United States are still in exploratory talks about how they can pursue a limited trade agreement, with no real negotiations yet started, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Monday.

Malmstrom told reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly that the two sides are looking at facilitating sales of U.S. liquefied natural gas to Europe and reducing regulatory barriers to trade.

“We’re still in that exploratory phase. We haven’t started any negotiations yet. People are talking to each other and we will have a new meeting in November,” Malmstrom said.

Malmstrom said she also expects to meet with U.S. Trader Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko in New York to discuss efforts to reform the World Trade Organization.

She said the three ministers will discuss possible reforms aimed at reducing industrial subsidies, where China and other countries “are massively subsidizing state-owned enterprise and thereby creating imbalances in the global market.”

“We are also talking about issues related to forced technology transfers, for instance, where we think we need new rules,” she added.

The United States is pursuing tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of Chinese imports based partly on its accusations that China’s policies unfairly force U.S. companies to transfer technology to their Chinese partners.

Reporting by David Lawder; editing by Grant McCool

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