WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Growing trans-Atlantic tensions over agriculture could derail the ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
The row over agriculture comes as US farm lobbies, Congress and some Trump administration officials demand access to European markets, the Wall Street Journal specified. However, EU officials are refusing to engage, claiming that the White House specifically omitted agriculture in July’s trade truce deal and focused instead on slashing tariffs on industrial goods.
The news comes as US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom will meet in Washington, DC on Wednesday for their fifth round of talks.
READ MORE: EU Presents Plan for ‘Limited’ US Trade Deal — Reports
US President Donald Trump, who has attacked the European Union over its farm policies and agricultural tariffs, will have to decide by mid-May whether to impose duties on car and part imports from the bloc. Such a move, which could hit $60 billion in annual EU exports, would trigger an immediate retaliation from Brussels, officials have said.
In July 2018, Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to work toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods. They also agreed to increase trade in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products and soybeans.
READ MORE: US Trade Office Seeks Access to EU Ag Markets Despite Resistance From Brussels
Prior to striking the deal, the United States and European Union were locked in what appeared to be an escalating trade war after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminium imported from the bloc as well as from Canada and Mexico. The European Union retaliated by levying tariffs on over $3.2 billion worth of the US imports. Both sides also threatened to impose reciprocal tariffs on automobiles, agricultural and high-tech goods.