© Reuters. EU Trade Commissioner Malmstrom attends an interview with Reuters in Geneva

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The European Union is focused on a narrower trade negotiation with the United States focused on industrial goods, including automobiles, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Thursday, one day after talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“There is a lack of trust at this moment” between the EU and the United States, Malmstrom said at a Georgetown Law School event. “That is why we’re proposing instead of increasing tensions between us, instead of having these tariffs, instead of saying that Europe is a security risk to the American economy, let’s rebuild that trust.”

Malmstrom said there is no support in Europe for a full, comprehensive trade agreement with the United States that covers agriculture, and she expects to have a mandate soon to negotiate an agreement on industrial goods.

The EU and Washington are preparing for discussions as the Trump administration seeks to renegotiate a number of trade pacts with various countries, including China, as part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” economic agenda.

European member countries must approve two negotiating mandates to formally launch talks. But while Germany aims to start quickly, France has been more reluctant.

On Thursday, Malmstrom said the EU would be ready to launch negotiations with the United States within weeks. She added that European officials would like to see cars and auto parts included in the talks, but said she had not seen any details about the U.S. recommendations regarding related “Section 232” tariffs.

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2019-03-07