Washington not ready for trade talks with EU - Malmstrom

FILE PHOTO: European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

PARIS (Reuters) - The United States is not ready to launch trade talks with the European Union, European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said on Wednesday.

"We are ready from the European Union side to start and we have the mandate... But I don't think the U.S. is ready to start on the tariff negotiations," Malmstrom told reporters at the OECD in Paris.

Malmstrom did not detail why Washington was not in a position to enter into tariff negotiations.

Member states have given the commissioner a mandate for the scope of the talks, which does not include agriculture, something the United States had pressed for.

But speaking after talks with the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Malmstrom said that if the two sides agreed to move ahead, the process would advance swiftly.

"If we were to agree that now we start (negotiations) and we can agree on the scope of this ... it could move in a couple of weeks," she added.

U.S. President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed in July 2018 to reduce to zero tariffs on "non-auto industrial goods".



(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Richard Lough and Alison Williams)