PARIS (Reuters) - France welcomes EU trade discussions with Washington but does not want to enter into a wide-ranging negotiation and feels any deal should be reciprocal, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday.
U.S. President Donald Trump and EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker agreed on Wednesday to hold sweeping trade talks on reducing tariff, subsidy and non-tariff barrier reductions.
France had long called for Trump to withdraw the steel and tariffs before any trade talks could start, saying the EU should refuse to negotiate with “a gun to its head”.
“Each side, the Europeans and the Americans, must find something in these discussions. Any trade deal must be based on reciprocity,” Le Maire said in remarks distributed by his office.
He added that agriculture must remain outside of any trade negotiation as Europe could not ease its food safety and environmental norms and that any deal should give Europe access to U.S. public procurement markets.
“We don’t want to enter into a negotiation a wide-ranging deal,” he said, adding that failure in the past to make progress on a free-trade deal showed the limits of a potential deal.
Le Maire also said that Washington should make a gesture of goodwill in particular on tariffs Trump slapped on European aluminum and steel in June.
Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Michel Rose
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