EU eyes ‘mini deal’ to ease US trade tensions

BRUSSELS: The EU sees a chance to strike a mini deal to help ease trade tensions with the United States, the bloc’s trade chief told the Financial Times on Wednesday.

EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said a decision by Washington to delay until March 18 a hike on US tariffs on Airbus from 10% to 15% was “a signal that the US (is) willing to give this window of opportunity a chance”.

The US decision followed a comment by President Donald Trump that it was time to talk “very seriously” about an overarching trade agreement.

Trump is especially keen to give US agricultural goods greater access to the EU market.

The current US tariffs on Airbus aircraft imported from Europe were imposed in October, after the World Trade Organisation authorised Washington to retaliate for European subsidies to the planemaker.

US levies were also slapped on other European products including wine, cheese and olives.

Trump has threatened to increase tariffs on French wine — currently taxed at 25% — even further unless there is a deal on a digital tax which European nations want to impose on digital giants such as Amazon and Facebook.