[BRUSSELS] The EU insisted on Friday that proposed trade talks between Europe and the United States would not include farming, in contradiction to a claim by President Donald Trump.
“I have been very clear on that… Agriculture is not part of it, only the things that are explicitly mentioned in the statement,” EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters in Brussels, in reference to a joint communique after White House talks on Wednesday.
“When you read the joint statement … you will see no mention of agriculture as such, you will see a mention of farmers and a mention of soybeans, which are part of the discussions and we will follow up that,” she said.
The clarification came a day after Mr Trump hailed the agreement as a major victory for US farmers, who have seen their exports plummet due to Washington’s protectionist policies.
“We just opened up Europe for you farmers,” he said at a rally in the farm state of Iowa, where Mr Trump has seen his strong support in opinion polls dim.
Led by farming powerhouse France, the EU is under pressure to underline that no such concession was made to Mr Trump, especially amid widespread opposition in Europe to seeing an influx of genetically modified imports from the US.
In the US on Wednesday, Mr Trump and Mr Juncker announced their plan to defuse a festering trade row, that in effect saw Washington back off a threat of auto tariffs against Europe, at least for now.
A statement mentioned very briefly that further trade talks would seek to “increase trade” in soybeans.
An senior EU official insisted this would have no consequence in the talks and that markets alone will decide on the level of US soybean imports to Europe.