EU wants to exclude agriculture from trade talks with US

European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. The European Union is insisting to keep agriculture out of the EU-US trade negotiations despite the wishes from Washington to include the vast sector. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. The European Union is insisting to keep agriculture out of the EU-US trade negotiations despite the wishes from Washington to include the vast sector. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

BRUSSELS — The European Union insisted Friday that agriculture be kept out of the EU-U.S. trade negotiations, despite Washington's wishes to include the vast sector, and said any overall deal will be limited in scope.

The EU Commission announced its proposals for a negotiating mandate from the 28 member states and said that the EU negotiations will be "strictly focused on the removal of tariffs on industrial goods, excluding agricultural products."

EU Trade Chief Cecilia Malmstrom also said that she is preparing a target list of American products it will hit with punitive tariffs if the Trump administration goes through with its threat to impose duties on European auto imports.

Last July, during a period of heightened tensions over trade, U.S. President Donald Trump and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to start talks meant to achieve "zero tariffs" and "zero subsidies" on non-automotive industrial goods.

With the U.S. criticizing the Europeans for allegedly dragging their feet in the talks, Malmstrom said "the EU is committed to upholding its side of the agreement reached by the two Presidents."

Any agreement would fall well short of the scope of the free trade deal that had been discussed in recent years — but paused in 2016 after Trump slammed such wide-ranging international deals as unfair to the U.S.

Instead, Malmstrom said, the deal both sides are now looking at could be concluded "quite quickly. We could finalize this and it would be beneficial to all of us."

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