EU debates how and when to start trade talks with Trump

Germany, whose exports of cars and car parts to the United States are worth more than half of the EU total, is keen to press ahead with the trade negotiations. (AFP)
Updated 22 February 2019
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EU debates how and when to start trade talks with Trump

  • The US and Europe ended a stand-off of several months last July
  • The EU is looking now to start negotiations on tariff reductions, possibly including cars

BUCHAREST: European ministers will begin debating on Friday how and when to start trade negotiations with the United States, aware that US President Donald Trump may impose punitive tariffs on EU car imports if the bloc waits too long.
The European Commission has asked the EU’s 28 countries to approve two negotiating mandates so that formal talks can begin. Germany is keen to start as soon as possible, while France is reluctant to engage with Trump.
The United States and Europe ended a stand-off of several months last July, when Trump agreed to hold off on car tariffs while the two sides looked to improve trade ties.
They committed to work toward removing tariffs on “non-auto industrial goods,” discuss ways to agree on product standards to boost trade and increase EU imports of US soybeans and liquefied natural gas.
The EU is looking now to start negotiations on tariff reductions, possibly including cars, as well as a separate set of talks on making it easier for companies to clear their products for sale on both sides of the Atlantic.
The ministers in Romania will face three questions.
The first concerns timing. Germany, whose exports of cars and car parts to the United States are worth more than half of the EU total, is keen to press ahead, but France is hesitant of moving before European Parliament elections in May.
The second question is whether to include fisheries, which is technically an industrial good. Some countries, such as France again, are concerned about increased competition in the sector, which is already strained by Brexit.
The third question is what to do about the previous broader “TTIP” negotiations, which drew thousands to streets in Europe in protest. The Commission has insisted the slimmed-down trade deal it is proposing is not a TTIP relaunch. One option to make that clear could be to formally end TTIP.
Industrial good tariffs are already low, at around 4 percent.
However, the Commission has said that removing them would boost EU exports to the United States by 8 percent and US exports to the European Union by 9 percent by 2033, corresponding to extra exports of respectively €27 billion and €26 billion ($29.5 billion).


Apple’s Cook to China: keep opening for sake of global economy

Updated 23 March 2019
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Apple’s Cook to China: keep opening for sake of global economy

  • Cook’s comments come as Apple weathers sinking sales in China
  • Despite official pledges and repeated assurances that China would continue to open its markets

BEIJING: Apple chief executive Tim Cook nudged China on Saturday to open up and said the future would depend on global collaboration, as the United States and China remained locked in a bitter trade dispute.
“We encourage China to continue to open up, we see that as essential, not only for China to reach its full potential, but for the global economy to thrive,” Cook said at a China Development Forum in Beijing.
Despite official pledges and repeated assurances that China would continue to open its markets, some analysts worry that its reform project has slowed or even stalled under President Xi Jinping, who has sought greater control over the economy and a bigger role for state-owned firms at the expense of the private sector.
Cook’s comments come as Apple weathers sinking sales in China because of a contracting smartphone market, increasing pressure from Chinese rivals, and slowing upgrade cycles. The company reported a revenue drop of 26 percent in the greater China region during the quarter ending in December.
Before those results came out, in a January letter to investors, Cook blamed the company’s poor China performance on trade tension between the United States and China, suggesting that pressure on the economy was hurting sales in China.