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In the US, new EU trade chief hopes to reset troubled transatlantic trade relations


In the US, new EU trade chief hopes to reset troubled transatlantic trade relations

eu us trade
Photo: Virginia Mayo/AP

The EU’s recently appointed trade chief, Phil Hogan, will meet his US counterpart Robert Lighthizer today as part of a four-day mission to reset relations between the world’s largest investment and trading partners.

Hogan’s trip comes amid tense relations between Washington and Brussels. President Donald Trump’s 25% and 10% tariffs on imported steel and aluminium respectively, imposed in 2018, have infuriated Brussels. More recently, Trump has threatened to slap 100% duties on up to $2.4 billion worth of French champagne, cheeses, and luxury goods in response to Paris’ tax on digital services.

Resetting trade relations with the US may be a herculean task considering the Trump administration credits its hardline negotiating tactics for producing a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada as well as the phase one trade deal with China.

Indeed, the spat between Brussels and Washington is symptomatic of a broader breakdown in the world’s free trade infrastructure. The US has blocked the appointment of judges to the WTO’s chief dispute-resolution body, effectively stopping the organisation’s litigation process.

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While today’s meeting is expected to appear friendly, trade tensions between the US and the EU seem unlikely to abate any time soon. As trade negotiations with China are temporarily on the backburner, Trump may be eager to set his sights on other perceived adversaries in the run up to presidential elections in November.

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