EU trade chief says U.S. tariff offer falls short in talks

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The United States will need to improve its offer on cutting tariffs on European manufactured and farm goods as part of negotiations on a U.S.-European Union trade pact, EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht said last week.

After two days of taking stock with his U.S. counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, De Gucht said talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were ready to step up to the next level but a lot of work remained.

In an initial exchange of offers on tariffs, the EU had deliberately decided on an "ambitious" proposal, De Gucht said.

"To our mind this has not been matched, at this moment in time, by what has been put on the table by the United States and that means that it will have to happen in the near future," he told reporters when asked about the tariff offers.

The EU has offered to lift tariffs on nearly all goods imported from the United States on the understanding that the United States would do the same, officials familiar with the proposal told Reuters.

The two account for almost half the world economy and more than a third of global trade, with two-way trade in goods alone worth more than $2 billion a day.

De Gucht also repeated the EU's firm stance against importing meat from animals injected with hormones and said the United States should look instead at the opportunities provided by hormone-free beef.

"If they want to export beef, they will have to export hormone-free beef, it's as simple as that," he said, pointing to Canada, which won the right to export more hormone-free beef to the EU in a recent trade deal.

"If you get a quota, you put into place a hormone-free beef production line. That's what Canada is going to do; it's not as if you can only grow a cow with hormones."

The two sides were still working on whether to include areas such as financial services regulation and U.S. energy exports in the negotiations, De Gucht said.

In a statement, Froman said talks would continue in the lead-up to the next negotiating round in Brussels on March 10.

"We both see opportunities to make substantial progress in the coming months, as well as some challenges," he said.

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