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EU countries back starting trade talks with United States




European Union flags are pictured during the visit of Vice President Mike Pence to the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir



European Union countries gave final clearance on Monday to start formal trade talks with the United States after months of delay due to French resistance.


In the end, the EU governments voted by a clear majority to approve the negotiating mandates proposed by the European Commission, with France voting against and Belgium abstaining.


The Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28-member European Union, wants to start negotiations on two tracks — one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to make it easier for companies to show products meet EU or U.S. standards.


It needed backing from the EU member states to do so.


The European Union and the United States reached a detente last July when U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to hold off imposing punitive tariffs on EU cars as the two sides sought to improve economic ties.


That including removing tariffs on “non-auto industrial goods”.


The Commission has repeatedly said it will not discuss tariffs or barriers to trade in farm products, but is willing to discuss cars, setting it on a possible collision course with Washington.



Reuters

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