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EU insists agriculture cannot be part of US tariffs deal talks

Agriculture will not be part of near-term trade negotiations between the U.S. and the European Union for a deal on lifting tariffs, the bloc's trade chief insisted May 27, rejecting a key demand from Washington.

"There is absolutely no possibility to include agriculture in these discussions," EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström told a press conference. She said the agriculture aspect could be brought up as part of talks in the future, "but that moment is not now."

In April, EU member states agreed to launch bilateral talks with the U.S. to come to an agreement on eliminating tariffs on industrial goods and conformity assessment to make it easier for companies to prove their products meet both U.S. and EU standards.

Malmström reiterated that the EU stands ready to begin talks on industrial tariffs, but U.S. officials do not seem ready, as they want farm products included in the talks.

"The ball is now in the U.S. court to start these negotiations," she said.

On the conformity assessment deal and regulatory cooperation, both sides "are making some progress," according to Malmström.

Malmström said Brussels welcomes Washington's decision to delay its decision on auto tariffs, insisting that auto exports from the EU are not a threat to U.S. national security.