Beyond EU meat: Trump announces beef trade deal with Brussels

New accord with European Union has broad economic implications, as Washington hopes to iron out larger agreement.

    The new beef deal is not expected to change overall European Union beef import volume, and still requires approval from the European Parliament [Leah Millis/Reuters]
    The new beef deal is not expected to change overall European Union beef import volume, and still requires approval from the European Parliament [Leah Millis/Reuters]

    United States President Donald Trump has announced an agreement to open up European markets to more US beef exports. 

    During the announcement on Friday at the White House, Trump said the the deal would lower trade barriers to Europe.

    "We love our farmers and ranchers," Trump said, adding that US beef exports have recently increased 31 percent.

    "They want a level playing field," the president said. "That's all they want, and nobody can beat them."

    US and European Union officials have been laying the groundwork for talks on a trade agreement, but had faced an impasse over agriculture.

    Stavros Lambrinidis, the EU ambassador to the US, praised the agreement as a "great example of how the multilateral trading system can work".

    "With this agreement, the EU reaffirms its commitment to a positive trans-Atlantic trade agenda and a new phase in US-EU relations," Lambrinidis added.  

    EU sources and diplomats in June said a deal was reached to allow the US a guaranteed share of a 45,000-tonne European quota for hormone-free beef.

    Trade uncertainties

    But European officials last month said broader trade talks had produced only mixed results. An agreement on beef may ease tensions between the two sides, which are each other's largest trading partners.

    The deal was not expected to change the overall beef import volume and would also still need to be approved by the European Parliament.

    Lingering issues also remain in other areas of US-EU trade, including import duties on industrial goods that Europe wants removed, as well as the threat of tariffs on European cars imported to the US.

    The Trump administration has been pursuing a host of new trade deals with Europe, China and others. These efforts are part of the Republican president's "America First" agenda as he seeks a second term in office.

    But difficulties in securing final pacts acceptable to all parties have roiled global markets.

    European stocks on Friday were battered by Trump's latest salvo in his ongoing trade dispute with China, after the US president vowed to impose further tariffs on Chinese imports.

    SOURCE: Reuters news agency