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Brussels adopts negotiating mandates for trade deal with the United States

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Brussels adopts negotiating mandates for trade deal with the United States

Cecilia Malmstroem - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - The EU Commission adopted Friday proposals for negotiating directives for its trade talks with the United States: one on conformity assessment, and one on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods.

The Commission is publishing the draft mandates at the same time as submitting them to the EU Member States, part of a commitment to transparency. The EU's Member States now need to give their green light to the proposals before negotiations can begin.

"These two proposed negotiating directives will enable the Commission to work on removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to transatlantic trade in industrial goods, key goals of the July Joint Statement," said Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.

The negotiating directives submitted by the Commission to the Council implement the 25 July Joint Statement and cover two potential agreements with the U.S:

  • A trade agreement strictly focused on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agricultural products;
  • A second agreement, on conformity assessment, that would help address the objective of removing non-tariff barriers, by making it easier for companies to prove their products meet technical requirements on both sides of the Atlantic.

In the context of the EU-U.S. Executive Working Group, co-chairs Commissioner Malmstroem and the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have met four times in order to bring the agreed work programme forward. Several other meetings were held between representatives of the two sides at senior officials' and expert levels.

The EU has already implemented several aspects of the July Joint Statement. Notably, imports of U.S. soya beans by the European Union increased by 112% over the period July to December 2018, compared to the same period last year. The United States is now Europe's main soya beans supplier and will soon be able to expand its market further, following the decision by the European Commission to launch the process for authorising the use of U.S. soya beans for biofuels. Recent figures have also shown a steep rise in shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. in October and November 2018. The EU has also identified a number of areas where voluntary cooperation on regulatory issues with the U.S. could yield quick and substantial results.

Links to mandates:

Conformity assessment and Annex

Industrial tariff elimination and Annex

Joint statement July 2018

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