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EU holds ‘great expectations’ for president-elect Biden in trade

The European Union has “great expectations” of a new U.S. president and hopes the United States will re-engage in multilateral trade talks, EU officials said on Monday.

EU ministers responsible for trade were meeting by video conference on Monday, two days after Democrat Joe Biden clinched the presidency. President Donald Trump, with whom Europe has had strained relations, has not conceded and is making legal challenges to the outcome of the Nov. 3 election.

“There are great expectations and the hope that the American presidential elections will lead to a return to multilateral engagement in international trade and that it will be possible to overcome past conflicts,” German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier told a news conference before the ministers met.

EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said the European Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 27 EU member states, had made some informal contacts with Team Biden.

“So some first contacts have been made, among other things also to discuss trade issues,” he said.

The EU wants the United States to remove U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and resolve a dispute over civil aircraft subsidies for planemakers Boeing and Airbus.

The bloc is ready to impose extra duties on $4 billion of U.S. imports after a World Trade Organization award in a case on Boeing. The United States already has tariffs on $7.5 billion of EU products approved in a parallel WTO case related to Airbus.

Dombrovskis, a vice president of the European Commission, repeated an EU offer that the bloc would suspend its measures if the United States did the same, but said Washington had so far not agreed to do so.

“We are ready to suspend or withdraw our tariffs any time when the U.S. suspends or withdraws their tariffs. We are ready to do it any time,” he said.

Source: Reuters (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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