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.