US, EU announce tariff agreement

The US and the European Union (EU) have announced a tariff agreement on lobsters and other products in a bid to increase trans-Atlantic market access, dubbed as “the “first negotiated reductions in duties” between the two sides “in more than two decades”.

Under the agreement announced on Friday, the EU will eliminate tariffs on imports of live and frozen lobster American products for five years, retroactive to begin August 1, Xinhua news agency quoted the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) as saying.

US exports of these products to the EU amounted to over $111 million in 2017.

As part of the agreement, the US will reduce by 50 per cent its tariff rates on certain products exported by the EU worth an average annual trade value of $160 million, retroactive to August 1.

These products include certain prepared meals, certain crystal glassware, surface preparations, propellant powders, cigarette lighters and lighter parts.

“As part of improving EU-US relations, this mutually beneficial agreement will bring positive results to the economies of both the United States and the European Union,” USTR Robert Lighthizer and EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said in a joint statement.

“We intend for this package of tariff reductions to mark just the beginning of a process that will lead to additional agreements that create more free, fair, and reciprocal transatlantic trade.”

The tariff agreement comes as trade tensions between the US and the EU over aircraft subsidies and digital service taxes have intensified in recent months.

After the World Trade Organization ruling on aircraft subsidies last year, the US had levied additional tariffs on $7.5 billion of European goods.