U.S., EU officials say they will not settle for limited trade deal

Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:04pm EDT
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By David Lawder

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. and European Union trade officials said on Thursday they would not settle for a limited trans-Atlantic free trade deal that ignores deep divisions on agricultural products, services, public procurement and dispute resolution.

In separate briefings during the latest negotiating round in New York, the U.S. and EU officials said they would push for a comprehensive Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or T-TIP, before U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office in January.

"We are not going to shoot for or accept a 'T-TIP light,' a U.S. Trade Representative official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

"It has to be comprehensive, it has to be ambitious and we do think we have the time that we need this year to complete such an ambitious deal," the official added.

But the U.S. officials and their European counterparts said bridging gaps would take a lot of work and that progress this week had centered mainly on non-controversial technical language. They are trying to lay the groundwork to have all but the thorniest problems solved by the autumn.

Among the deepest divides concern Europe's food safety rules that exclude American beef raised with hormones, genetically modified foods and Europe's many local food naming rules, such as for asiago and feta cheeses.

U.S. negotiators have complained those rules have fueled a $12 billion annual food trade deficit with the EU, $1 billion in cheese alone.

Teamsters union legislative representative Michael Dolan told a forum for industry, labor and other trade stakeholders on Tuesday that he believed the two sides were too entrenched on some key issues and that those should be excluded. He recommended leaving out the food safety standards and naming rules, known as "geographical indications."   Continued...

Currency signs of Japanese Yen, Euro and the U.S. dollar are seen on a board outside a currency exchange office at Narita International airport, near Tokyo, Japan, March 25, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya Shino