In a sign of easing trade tensions between the world’s two biggest trading partners, the United States and the European Union have sealed a deal to slash imports tariffs on a range of products, including lobsters.
The two, who have been embroiled in a trade spat over EU aircraft subsidies that drove President Donald Trump to impose punitive tariffs on European steel and aluminum, announced the deal in a joint statement on Friday.
“As part of improving EU-U.S. relations, this mutually beneficial agreement will bring positive results to the economies of both the United States and the European Union. 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” said United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and European Union Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan, in the statement.
The trade representatives said the deal will increase market access for hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. and EU exports, with the overall deal worth some $198 million, based on 2019 trade.
Under the agreement, the European Union will remove tariffs of 8–12 percent on imports of lobsters, while the United States will halve its duties on imports of certain glassware, ceramics, disposable lighters, and prepared meals.
Under the agreement, the European Union will cut tariffs on imports of live and frozen lobster products from the United States, while the United States will halve its duties on imports of certain glassware, ceramics, disposable lighters, and prepared meals.
In 2017, the United States exported over $111 million worth of live and frozen lobster products to the EU.
The EU tariffs will be eliminated for a period of five years and the European Commission—the bloc’s executive body—will move to make the tariff cuts permanent. The agreement will still need approval from EU governments and the European Parliament, which could come within weeks.
These tariff reductions are the first U.S.-EU negotiated reductions in duties in over two decades.
Washington has subjected $7.5 billion of EU products—including Scottish whisky and French wine—to tariffs because of a WTO case it won over EU subsidies to plane manufacturer Airbus.
The United States has threatened to increase the tariffs but last week it only imposed minor changes, which the European Commission acknowledged as a conciliatory move.