Daily Management Review

EU Trade Chief says Ball in U.S. Court to Start Trade Talks


Even though there has been some progress in the talks between the European Union and the United States which is aimed at averting the US from imposing a punitive import tariff on EU made cars, the ball lies squarely on in the court of the US on whether to come to an agreement with the EU on a broad removal of import tariff on both sides, according to the trade chief of the EU.
Last month, clearance for beginning of formal trade talks with the US was formally given by the EU countries. These negotiations would focus on two major issues – the first is reduction of import tariffs on industrial goods from both countries parties and the second is to easing the processes for companies in both sides of the Atlantic that there products conform to the prescribed levels of standards of the US or the EU markets.
There has been some progress on the second issue, said EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom. Both the sides have also discussed opportunities for possible collaboration on regulatory controls which would eliminate the need for conducting quality checks on both sides of the Atlantic for products imported.
"The aim is not to change our respective systems," she told a news conference after a meeting of EU trade ministers. "Here, we are making some progress".
However there are conflicts between the two sides over the issue of reduction of import tariffs, Malmstrom acknowledged and added that the inclusion of farm products in this list is being demanded by the United States but which is being opposed by the European Union.
"The ball is now in the U.S. court to start these negotiations," Malmstrom said.
Another area of skirmish on trade between the US and the EU was also discussed by the EU trade ministers on Monday which is the blocking of appointment to the World Trade Organization's appellate body by the US. This body is responsible for resolution of any trade related disputes between WTO members.
At he end of the current year, the body would virtually be paralyzed after the setting down of two of its three remaining members. The minimum quorum to hear any case in the body is three members.
In order to find out an interim solution to the impending crisis at the WTO, the European Commission would reach out to other WTO members, the EU countries have agreed. Such an interim solution would help in retaining the binding character of the appellate body's decisions and the WTO's two-tier system of adjudication.
Making use of the article 25 of the WTO's existing Dispute Settlement Understanding is one such possible solution. It would allow the WTO to settle disputes through arbitration. However this was not enough as a long term solution, Malmstrom stressed.
"By end of the year we will need to make sure, and other countries feel the same, that there is something to guarantee our interests. There are provisions in article 25, but it would be interim, it would be temporary," she said.