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No progress in EU-US trade talks

September 11, 2018

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BRUSSELS: Top trade officials from the US and EU met on Monday to begin efforts to turn a much heralded deal to avert a trade war into a concrete long-term agreement.

After the meeting, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said she would meet US Trade Repre­sen­tative Robert Lighthizer again by the end of the month.

But neither side annou­­nced any immediate breakthrough.

“We discussed how to move forward and identify priorities on both sides,” Malmstrom wrote on Twitter, “and how to achieve concrete results in the short to medium term.” Lighthizer’s office called it a “constructive meeting”.

The negotiators’ cautious response to this first chance to “operationalise” plans for a limited trans-Atlantic trade pact came in stark contrast to the enthusiasm surrounding its birth.

In July, US President Donald Trump and EC head Jean-Claude Juncker pled­ged to hold off from further tit-for-tat tariffs and to work towards scrapping customs duties on all goods.

Both sides hailed the deal as a major breakthrough, but subsequent statements showed that disputes persist, especially over agriculture, which Washington insists will be a key part of any agreement.

Published in Dawn, September 11th, 2018