EU Ready to Scrap Auto Tariffs with U.S.


The European Union is prepared to scrap tariffs on cars with the United States in its proposed trade deal with Washington, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said Thursday.

"We are willing to bring down ... our car tariffs to zero, all tariffs to zero if the U.S. does the same," Malmstrom told members of the European Parliament meeting in Brussels.

"It has to be reciprocal. If that would happen, it would be good for us economically and good for them," she said in comments that shifted from an earlier position.

At the White House in July, U.S. President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker pledged to work towards a limited trade accord that would eliminate transatlantic customs duties, but excluded the automobile sector. 

The White House meeting defused a trade dispute that erupted after the U.S. slapped tariffs on EU metals imports in June despite a months-long effort by top EU leaders and officials to appease Trump.

Senior officials, led by Malmstrom on the European side and by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for Washington, have been tasked with drawing the outlines of this agreement over the coming weeks.

"On the timetable ... Obviously we would seek to try to finalize this during the mandate of the Commission (which ends in autumn 2019)," Malmstrom said.

If negotiations are "limited ... I think that can be done," she said.

Malmstrom also insisted that whatever deal was reached would fall well short of the ambitions of the TTIP talks, an earlier attempt by Brussels and Washington to reach a wide-ranging trade deal that collapsed after the protectionist Trump took office.

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