Is a trade deal between the EU and the USA in sight?

“Not yet” would appear to be the answer, as details emerge of the state of play following the latest negotiations.

A progress report published by the European Commission gives updates in five key areas.

  1. Reciprocal liberalisation of tariffs for industrial goods.

  2. Exploration of trade facilitating actions in the sectors of services, chemicals, medical devices, pharmaceuticals and soya beans.

  3. Closer co-operation on regulatory issues and standards.

  4. Strategic co-operation on energy issues.

  5. Reform of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and co-operation to address unfair trading practices.

In July 2018, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker agreed a Joint Statement with US President Donald Trump, aimed at preventing an escalation of trade tensions and setting out a transatlantic trade agenda.

Under the agreement, an Executive Working Group was established and it is the work of that body on which the Commission’s report focuses.

According to the Interim Report, the talks have largely concentrated in the first few months on exploring how to deliver results on regulatory issues.

In that context, the EU has proposed greater co-operation on the development and use of new standards supporting regulations. Additive manufacturing, robotics and automated and connected vehicles are among potential candidates for such co-operation, the Commission suggests.

The EU has also indicated its readiness to negotiate an international agreement to reduce the costs of conformity assessment in transatlantic trade, the report highlights, “provided that the right conditions are met to ensure a high level of trust in conformity assessment on both sides of the Atlantic”.

In other areas, progress has been made on facilitating imports of US soya beans, with imports into the EU rising by 114% in the current market year.

Commenting on the report, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström made it clear that the Commission is not proposing any negotiations with the USA to reduce or eliminate tariffs on agricultural products.

Last reviewed 5 February 2019