Agreements by the U.S., European Union and the UK to suspend all tariffs tied to airplane subsidies may open the door to renewed efforts by the U.S. to strike separate free trade agreements with the British and Europeans, according to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The U.S. announced Friday an agreement to suspend tariffs for four months on European yogurt, milk, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, cherry juice, whiskey, wine, peaches and other goods that are meant to punish the EU for continuing to subsidize airplane-maker Airbus. Likewise, the EU agreed to halt tariffs on U.S. orange juice, cotton, grapefruit, almonds, walnuts, cheese, ketchup and rum that are a response to U.S. subsidies for Boeing.
Similarly, the U.S. announced Thursday its suspension on Airbus-related tariffs on British cheese and other commodities.
“These steps signal the determination of both sides to embark on a fresh start in the relationship,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement.
Both the EU and the U.S. stressed that the tariff suspensions would allow for talks to resolve the airplane subsidy disputes, but Vilsack went further during a seminar at the Commodity Classic.
“Maybe it gives us an opportunity to have conversations about trade agreements with both the UK and the EU,” Vilsack said.
European Commission Executive Vice President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis issued a similarly optimistic statement, although he did not directly mention FTA negotiations.
“A positive EU-U.S. trade relationship is important not only to the two sides but to global trade at large,” he said
Interested in more news on farm programs, trade and rural issues? Sign up for a four-week free trial to Agri-Pulse. You’ll receive our content - absolutely free - during the trial period
The U.S. and the UK began negotiations for a post-Brexit FTA in May last year, but those talks got put on hold after the election because the British knew that it would be the Biden administration that needed to complete the deal.
Negotiators still had not nailed down any agreements on agricultural trade when the talks were idled, government officials involved in the talks told Agri-Pulse.
The U.S. is steadfastly insistent that the UK reject EU-style bans on beef and pork from animals that have been treated with growth hormones or ractopamine. And British negotiators still have not agreed to the import of U.S. poultry.
The U.S.-EU talks began to fall apart shortly after they began in 2018 when the Europeans adamantly refused to include agricultural policy in the negotiations and that may still be a problem in any future talks.
Vilsack stressed Friday that “any trade agreement must include open access to (U.S.) agricultural products for it to be successful.”
For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com.