President Donald Trump said in Iowa on Thursday that he just opened up the European market to U.S. farmers. One problem: Europe disagrees.
“We’re opening things up,” Trump said in Dubuque (video above). “But the biggest one of all happened yesterday ... the EU .... We just opened up Europe for you farmers. You’re not going to be too angry with Trump, I can tell you. You were essentially restricted. You had barriers that really made it impossible for farm products to go in ... you have just gotten yourself one big market that really essentially never existed.”
The European Union’s take was very different.
“On agriculture, I think we’ve been very clear on that — that agriculture is out of the scope of these discussions,” European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters in Brussels on Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Other than what is “explicitly mentioned” in the agreement, “we are not negotiating about agricultural products,” she said.
“When you read the joint statement ... you will see no mention of agriculture as such; you will see a mention of farmers and a mention of soybeans, which are part of the discussions, and we will follow up [on] that,” Andreeva added.
Trump’s boast appears to be an overselling of the agreement he reached with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, which was announced at the White House on Wednesday. The men agreed to a truce in the confrontation over trade while the two sides negotiate toward common goals. Those include “zero tariffs” and to “reduce barriers and increase trade in services, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products, as well as soybeans.”
Trump hailed it as a “breakthrough agreement,” while Juncker said it was a “good and instructive meeting.”
The U.S. “heavily insisted to insert the whole field of agricultural products” in the negotiations, Juncker later told reporters, according to the Journal. “We refused that because I don’t have a mandate and that’s a very sensitive issue in Europe.”
But U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a Senate committee Thursday that “we are negotiating about agriculture, period.”
In Dubuque, Trump described the agreement as “no tariffs, no nothing, free trade.” He said he told the Europeans: “Do me a favor: Would you go out to the farms in Iowa ... would you buy a lot of soybeans right now?”