WASHINGTON—A top Trump administration official said Sunday the U.S. will “immediately” start negotiating with the European Union to forge trade agreements on farm and energy products, promising “an actual transaction” right away to sell more soybeans, beef and liquefied natural gas to European countries
Trump Adviser Kudlow Says U.S. to ‘Immediately’ Start EU Trade Talks on Agriculture

Larry Kudlow, President Trump’s chief economic adviser, said he would be involved in the negotiations, to be led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

“We will be starting immediately,” Mr. Kudlow said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We’ll be setting up a layered process to examine all the different areas.”

Mr. Kudlow stressed that broad discussions on agriculture will be part of the bilateral talks, underscoring a gap with Brussels, which has vowed to keep the sector off the table

European officials said they were already engaged in talks with the U.S. to boost beef imports and promised to seek buying more American soybeans following China’s decision to cut imports of the crop in a separate trade dispute. But European officials have said that beyond those two specific areas, they made clear to Washington they wouldn’t include any broader discussion of agriculture in the pending talks..

“If ag [agriculture] is not part of it, what are soybeans doing and what’s beef doing?” Mr. Kudlow said on “Face the Nation.” “In the final document that was signed by both, we talked about opening markets for farmers and for workers.”

The joint statement put out after the meeting mentioned only soybeans, not agriculture more generally, as a subject for coming discussions.

Mr. Kudlow didn’t discuss a specific timeline for future talks or whether the negotiations will be completed before the Commerce Department decides whether to recommend imposing tariffs on European cars as early as September.

“All I’m going to say is the EU story is moving ahead very rapidly,” he said.  “And I think that, by the way, puts China in a very difficult position.”

A USTR spokeswoman said more information will become available “in the coming days” regarding further talks with the EU, but declined to comment further.

Mr. Trump, whose base of support includes voters in agricultural areas, told a crowd in Iowa Thursday that “we just opened up Europe for your farmers,” as he praised “a breakthrough agreement” with his EU counterpart.

The Trump administration’s tariff policy, as well as its plan for a $12 billion aid program for farmers hurt by the trade disputes, continued to draw criticism from lawmakers on Sunday, including one from his own party.

“My hope is that by calling a truce, by moving forward to completing these deals, we never even have to try and implement that $12 billion program, because that would be a mess,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), also speaking on “Face the Nation.”

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) said on the same program that 140,000 jobs in her state were at risk if Mr. Trump’s tariffs continue. She said she was disappointed that “while they’re talking about a bailout for farmers, they’re not talking about help for small businesses who are being hurt.”



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