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EU trade chief sees easier U.S. ties with Biden than Trump

Philip Blenkinsop
·2-min read
European Commission Vice President Dombrovskis attends his hearing, in Brussels
European Commission Vice President Dombrovskis attends his hearing, in Brussels

By Philip Blenkinsop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union's trade relations with the United States would likely be easier if Democratic challenger Joe Biden won November's U.S. election rather than President Donald Trump, European Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said on Friday.

The EU still faces U.S. tariffs on its steel and aluminium and is in dispute with Washington over aircraft subsidies and EU plans to tax digital services companies. The two sides also have differing view on the value of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Asked how Brussels was preparing for the U.S. election on Nov. 3, Dombrovskis told EU lawmakers the bloc wanted strong transatlantic ties and would work with Washington whatever the outcome.

"Probably under a new administration it would be easier because we know that the Trump administration is unfortunately supporting this unilateral action in areas of trade which is creating lots of tensions and lots of problems," he said.

"But in any case we will need to work closely and deliver positive results where we can," he continued.

On aircraft subsidies, Dombrovskis said that, in the absence of an agreement, the EU would impose tariffs related to Boeing once the WTO decides on the size of damages.

Dombrovskis was speaking at a hearing at the European Parliament, which needs to approve his new role as the commissioner in charge of trade.

Dombrovskis, one of three executive vice presidents among the 27 commissioners, will continue to oversee the European Union economy, but is also taking on trade after the resignation of Irishman Phil Hogan.

Dombrovskis also spoke about an EU trade accord struck with Mercosur countries Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. It faces criticism from environmental advocates who blame Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for emboldening illegal ranchers and land speculators to deforest Amazon land.

"We will need meaningful results, meaningful engagement from the Mercosur countries before we can proceed with ratification. Mercosur would need to deliver on deforestation, on the Paris (climate) agreement because that's very clear," Dombrovskis said.

(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alex Richardson)