U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Tuesday that the U.S. and the European Union were at a “complete stalemate” over whether the EU’s agricultural subsidies were up for negotiation.
The U.S. wants them to be on the table in upcoming trade talks, but the EU is refusing, and neither side is budging, he said.
“The U.S. cannot have a trade deal with Europe that does not deal with agriculture and their view is that they cannot have one that does, so we’re at a stalemate and we’ll see how that develops,” Lighthizer said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing, characterizing it later as a “complete stalemate.”
The Trump administration and EU leaders are making preparations to begin talks later this year for a new trade deal, but progress has been slow. Lighthizer said the problem was that the EU’s negotiators have no mandate to discuss agriculture because several member states have refused to authorize that. At the same time, Lighthizer said members of Congress have told him any deal that didn’t address agriculture “would be a dead letter” on Capitol Hill.
For now, he said his office and the EU officials are continuing in the areas where they can negotiate with the understanding that they have to get back to agriculture eventually or else the whole effort is for nothing.
The White House is currently mulling over placing 25 percent tariffs on autos and auto parts, a policy that would hit the EU hard. President Trump has said the tariffs are contingent on whether a fair deal can be struck with the EU.