Joint press statement on the EU-US trade relations

13.04.2018 - 10:00
Transatlantic relations between EU and US

The European Union and the United States are key strategic partners, allies and friends. We share common values of democracy, human rights and rule of law as well as strategic interest in mutual prosperity and security. We enjoy the most integrated economic relations in the world. Trade and investment policy is a very important tool and engine for sustainable growth and jobs, underpinning the strategic vision of our unique relationship. The ongoing global challenges, including of trade and investment liberalisation, the role of emerging major economies as well as technological change, further highlight the importance of our partnership.

We, the undersigned, therefore want to reiterate our commitment to open markets and the fight against protectionism including all unfair trade practices, as well as the essential role of the rules-based international trading system in order to ensure a level playing field and enable our citizens to seize the opportunities of economic globalisation. We also remain committed to a strong transatlantic relationship, which should be given a new momentum with regard to our cooperation on bilateral and multilateral levels as well as global issues, including on trade and investment.

The EU and the US are partners and allies. We share the concerns about the excess capacities in global key sectors for functioning international trade, innovation and sustainable growth. It is therefore crucial that we continue working together constructively to tackle this issue and its root causes, as we already started doing in the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity. However, our transatlantic bond as well as our strong economic and trade relations must not be put at risk.

In this light, we are seriously concerned about the decision by the United States to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum following the Section 232 investigations of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the possible tariffs that could be imposed by the European Union on certain U.S. products should an exemption for the European Union not be made permanent. We take note that shipments of steel and aluminum from the EU have been temporarily exempted from such measures, but strongly call for that exemption to be made permanent.

Moreover, we are increasingly worried with the issue of outstanding WTO Appellate Body appointments. A binding dispute settlement as well as an independent Appellate Body are crucial for the functioning of the WTO. We remain strongly committed to dispute settlement through adjudication as one of the main pillars of the multilateral trading system, even if we sometimes do not agree with the result of a dispute. The EU and the US have used the system the most to effectively reduce numerous trade barriers, the United States having benefitted from it even more than other WTO Members with a high success rate for offensive disputes and defensive cases. Therefore, we should be careful not to jeopardise the institution and its essential features. At the same time, we both stand ready to continue discussing possible improvements, without leading to procedural blockages. Hence, the WTO should proceed with Appellate Body appointments as soon as possible so that we can together focus on our cooperation on common challenges such as unfair market distorting and protectionist practices by third countries.

It is of vital importance that the trade and investment relationship as well as the transatlantic bond between the EU and the US continues to improve by developing a positive trade agenda, setting international standards together and thus driving the global economy forward. We stand ready to join our forces and contribute to this project.

Prof. Dr. Godelieve Quisthoudt-Rowohl

Spokesperson of the European People's Party Group on International Trade in the European Parliament

Rep. William R. Keating

Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade

Co-Chair of the TTIP Caucus

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