US, EU disagree on whether agriculture is in the trade talks
Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker disagreed today on whether agriculture will be included in the trade negotiations that President Donald Trump and Juncker announced at the White House on Wednesday, Politico reported.
“Our view is we are negotiating about agriculture,” Lighthizer said at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on USTR’s annual budget. “That’s part of the project.”
Juncker and President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the two sides would begin talks on eliminating tariffs, subsidies and non-tariff barriers in industrial goods, and also look for ways to expand trade in services. In addition, the European Union also agreed to increase purchases of soybeans.
But Juncker told reporters that the EU resisted demands for broader talks on agriculture because it did not have a mandate from its member states to agree to that, Politico said.
“We refused that because, A, we didn’t have a mandate; B, it’s a very sensitive issue in Europe,” Juncker said.
However, a high-level U.S.-EU working group will decide exactly what the negotiations will cover, Juncker added.
The EU did agree to import more standards and also to negotiate on product “standards,” which could include agriculture.
Lighthizer also said the Trump administration has no plans “at this time” to provide aid to sectors other than agriculture.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has asked about aid for the seafood industry due to lost exports and Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, has said the lobster industry in her state will get aid because China has cut back on lobster imports.
Lawmakers have also said other sectors have been hurt by the tariffs and need help.