Agri-Pulse: EU approves US trade talks, but not for ag

A council representing European Union countries officially signed off Monday on a narrow mandate to allow trade talks with the U.S. to begin, but, as expected, that mandate does not include agriculture.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has been saying for months that Europe had no intention of addressing ag issues in a trade pact, but that position has met stiff resistance from the Trump administration and many U.S. lawmakers who want to see Europe lift rules that sharply restrict access to U.S. commodities like poultry, pork and beef.

“Elimination of industrial tariffs and non-tariff barriers only get us part of the way there, especially when we face major barriers to agricultural trade in the E.U.,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said. “Agriculture is a significant piece of the global economy and it simply doesn’t make sense to leave it out.”

Malmström and others continue to argue that the word “agriculture” was never used when President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to negotiate last summer.

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