“Both presidents were saying we do not want to launch a set of negotiations that will be carried on for three or four years, so that’s why it’s not TTIP,” O’Sullivan said. “Maybe it would not be the most important trade deal either of us have ever done, but it would be a substantial and significant achievement for business and in eliminating tariffs across the board on industrial products.”
O’Sullivan added that it was the EU’s desire to leave agriculture out of negotiations and the United States’ desire to leave automobiles out of negotiations.
He mentioned that Trump and Juncker agreed to hold off on any additional tariffs while their governments continue to progress in trade negotiations, adding that any U.S. actions to impose tariffs on European automobiles “would basically break off those talks, but we don’t believe that that is going to happen.”
Speaking before O’Sullivan, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, noted Defense Secretary James Mattis’ opposition to the current round of Section 232 national security tariffs on steel and aluminum, and anticipated an “even more forthright response” from the Defense Department regarding the proposition of Section 232 tariffs on automobiles, as the Trump administration finishes its ongoing investigation.
Congress is “intensely interested” in agriculture being included in talks, Portman said, adding that such provisions could cover areas including tariffs and sanitary/phytosanitary barriers. He also noted that the EU maintains a trade surplus with the U.S. in agriculture, even while the U.S. maintains a sort of comparative advantage on commodities including beef, pork and poultry.
Responding to a question noting that senior EU leaders repeatedly have stated that they don’t want agriculture to be included in talks, Portman said, “We’ll see” if that position will be maintained.