On January 10 2019, the Atlantic Council’s Global Business and Economics Program hosted European Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström, as she visited Washington, DC for negotiations with US counterparts. The event is part of the Global Business & Economic Program’s EuroGrowth Initiative.

Addressing a large crowd, Commissioner Malmström took stock of current trade discussions between the US and the European Union (EU), noting that US officials had yet to prepare for negotiations and that “the ball is in their court.” Earlier that the day, the Commissioner met with her US counterpart US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and announced that the EU is ready to begin negotiating an industrial goods trade agreement with the United States, excluding agricultural goods. Current US-EU dialogue on potential transatlantic trade negotiations stem from a joint statement between US President Donald J. Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in July 2018, in which they agreed, among other things, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods. Commissioner Malmström pushed back on reports that talks were stalling, saying there has been “constant work; we are really not resting after that meeting in July”. 

One of the main objectives for Commissioner Malmström’s Washington DC visit was a trilateral meeting with her US and Japanese counterparts to discuss reform plans for the WTO and to address non market-oriented policies and practices of third countries. The joint initiative was born out of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Buenos Airesin late 2017.In this light, she discussed the progress made to date and stressed the urgent need for reform of the WTO , saying “we need to save it, it is quite urgent.” Malmström was clear that there is a real risk that the WTO could fail if significant action was not taken this year. She outlined a three-pronged approach toward WTO reform, including saving its Appellate Body, the WTO’s dispute resolution mechanism, updating the organization’s outdated rules, and improving transparency.

Ambassador C. Boyden Gray introduced the event, which was moderated by Bart Oosterveld, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Global Business & Economics Program.   

To learn more, read a comprehensive article here or watch the event here

You can read the Commissioner’s speech here

Related Experts: Bart Oosterveld