So Sean Hannity would have us believe this evening after the press conference earlier today by Trump and EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker. According to Hannity they have signed a “deal” that will help US businesses, workers, and farmers. Yowzah!
As it is, what appears to have been agreed to (no signed deal) is that the US will not impose tariffs on autos imported from the EU as he had threatened to, a proposal not supported by the US auto industry, the erstwhile beneficiary of such an action. This means that the EU in turn will not impose a bunch of retaliatory tariffs against various American products. So, the trade war sits where it is, with US tariffs in place on foreign steel and aluminum, with a set of retaliatory tariffs on a variety of US goods all still in place. The war has not been won, merely that its momentum has slowed.
Ah, but then there was the dramatic announcement by Trump that there will be negotiations with the EU that will move to end all tariffs, subsidies, and other non-tariff trade barriers in all non-auto industrial sectors. He then reeled off a set of other sectors in which negotiations would occur, although with not quite such a strong promise regarding what might result, with at the end of the list being soybeans, which Trump declared “is very important.” Indeed.
What all this brings up is how does this relate to the long-running negotiations over trade and investment that went on between the US and the EU that Trump shut down last year? This would be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Plan (TTIP, or T-TIP for some parties). This negotiation began under Obama in 2013. Between July 2013 and October 2016 there were 15 weeklong rounds of negotiation regarding 28 topic areas, some of them those mentioned in today’s press conference by President Trump. On none of those 28 was there a full agreement as of the final round of negotiations, although some were further along than others. It had been estimated that it might take until 2021 to complete this negotiation, and that made back when there still were negotiations.