EU countries agree to start trade talks with the US | Business News

The European Union has given final clearance for trade talks to begin with the US, despite differences on climate and agriculture policies.

Trade talks between the two first started in 2013 but were suspended three years later after Donald Trump won the US presidency.

But on Monday the European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28-member EU, approved negotiations on two tracks: one to cut tariffs on industrial goods, the other to make it easier for companies to show products meet EU or US standards.

France was the only country to vote against the move, an objection based mainly on climate issues.

Mr Trump announced in 2017 that he was withdrawing the US from the 2015 Paris Agreement, which had been aimed at halting climate change.

French president Emmanuel Macron had said Europe should not negotiate a trade deal with any country that was not part of the accord.

All members states have to sign off on trade deals negotiated by the EU bloc so France cannot stop the talks but it could block any resulting trade deal.

Belgium was the only abstention in the European Commission’s vote.

Germany was keen to push ahead with the talks, as it tries to avoid US tariffs on Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-maker Daimler. Germany’s exports of cars and parts to the US make up more than half of the EU total.

Another possible roadblock to the success of talks is agriculture, with the US wanting to break down tariffs and sell its products in the EU’s heavily-subsidised farming sector.

The EU had argued that agriculture should not be included in the talks but the US had said that talks would not go ahead without it.

Together, the EU and US economies account for about half the world’s GDP and nearly a third of world trade flows.

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