EU countries agree to start formal trade talks with U.S.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union countries provisionally agreed the start of formal trade negotiations with the United States on Thursday, EU sources said, a move designed but not guaranteed to smooth strained relations between the world’s two largest economies.
The European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28 member European Union, had sought clearance for two negotiating mandates - one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to make it easier for companies to show their products meet EU or U.S. standards.
EU sources said ambassadors agreed to the mandates at a meeting on Thursday. This will need to be put to national ministers for formal approval, although they would normally do so without debate. Agriculture ministers of the 28 EU countries will meet in Brussels on Monday.
The European Union and the United States reached a detente last July when U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to hold off imposing punitive tariffs on EU cars as the two sides sought to improve economic ties.
However, U.S. tariffs still apply to EU steel and aluminum, while on Tuesday Trump threatened to impose further tariffs on $11 billion worth of EU products related to a long-running aircraft subsidy dispute.
Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Foo Yun Chee and Alison Williams