September 5, 2018 / 10:20 AM / 2 months ago

EU, U.S. trade chiefs to mend ties after Trump tariff detente

FILE PHOTO - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testifies before Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the proposed budget estimates and justification for FY2019 for the Office of the United States Trade Representative, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, U.S., July 26, 2018. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. and EU trade chiefs will hold a first meeting in Brussels on Monday to pursue closer transatlantic ties after U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to drop his threat of tariffs on EU cars.

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom will host United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at the first political level meeting of a new working group, the Commission said on Wednesday.

The group, set up after a detente in July, is charged with finding ways to cut tariffs, boost U.S. liquefied natural gas exports and to reform the World Trade Organization. Trade advisers and officials held a first meeting last month.

Trump agreed with Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July to refrain from imposing tariffs on EU cars while the two sides launched discussions to remove tariffs on non-auto industrial products.

But Malmstrom said last week that the easing of trade tensions between the two partners had not put to rest “profound disagreements” on trade policy.

She also said the European Union would be willing to reduce its car tariffs to zero if the United States did the same.

Trump rejected the idea as “not good enough”, adding that EU consumers simply tended to buy European rather than American cars.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, editing by Robin Emmott

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