Hogan Starts EU Trade Job Facing Big Battles With Trump

Dara Doyle and Jonathan Stearns

(Bloomberg) -- Want to receive this post in your inbox every day? Sign up for the Terms of Trade newsletter, and follow Bloomberg Economics on Twitter for more.

Phil Hogan has the reputation of being a behind-the-scenes power broker. “Big Phil” — as the six-foot-five Irishman is known in Brussels — will need those skills in his new role as EU trade commissioner, seeking to defuse tensions with President Donald Trump and hammer out a deal with the U.K. after Brexit.

Hogan, who started the job this week, grew up a farmer’s son near Tullaroan, a sleepy Irish village of about 300 people where the fearsome sport of hurling is king. Hurling is like an extreme version of field hockey. Hogan, 59, was a keen player before a hand injury halted his career in his early twenties.

Upon his appointment as trade commissioner, Hogan warned the U.S. to expect a “bit of ground hurling” — a technique in which an opponent can also get whacked along with the ball.

He’ll put that to the test in several areas:

A looming deadlock on the World Trade Organization’s appellate body because of the U.S.’s refusal to consider new panelists U.S. duties on a range of European products following a WTO ruling about illegal aid to Airbus The Trump administration's threat to impose levies on French goods in retaliation over France’s tech tax U.S. tariffs on European steel and aluminum Continued U.S. threats to impose tariffs on European carmakers American demands to include agriculture in the scope of planned talks on cuts in duties on industrial goods

He’ll also be involved in shepherding the draft EU pact with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay — the so-called Mercosur group — through the bloc’s approval process, which promises to be tricky in part because of the greater access to the European farm market promised to South American exporters.

The EU also has plans for free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand (negotiations on comprehensive accords including agriculture got underway last year). Further back in the pipeline are deals sought with India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. In addition, separate EU deliberations are taking place with China on an investment accord.

Charting the Trade War

Soybeans have been at the center of the U.S.-China dispute, with Chinese imports of the raw ingredient from the U.S. slumping as relations worsened. That’s prompted buyers in Asian nation to purchase more from Brazil, resulting in a shift in traditional trade routes.

Today’s Must Reads

Staying close | Chinese officials are in close contact with U.S. counterparts on trade negotiations, while reiterating that tariffs should be reduced. New Nafta | House Democrats said a deal on the stalled U.S.-Mexico-Canada free-trade agreement is within reach and urged Mexico to accept a compromise on labor-rights enforcement. Spoiling farmers | The U.S. government’s $28 billion farm bailout may be paying many producers more than the trade war with China has cost them. Noise filter | Investors whipsawed by Trump’s messaging on trade might want to recall one of his favorite postures in the heat of negotiations — patience. Stephanomics podcast | How will the course of Brexit be altered by next week’s U.K. general election? Bloomberg Senior Executive Editor Stephanie Flanders discusses the topic on a live panel with three important thinkers.

Economic Analysis

Low gear | The global economy is struggling to find its way out of the slow lane, according to Bloomberg Economics’ global GDP growth tracker. Headed for turbulence | Air cargo's profit turnaround stuck on hold as headwinds swirl

Coming Up

Dec. 6: France trade balance Dec. 8: China trade balance Dec. 9: Germany trade balance Dec. 11: WTO appeals panel will cease to function  Dec. 15: New U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods come into force

Like Terms of Trade?

Don’t keep it to yourself. Colleagues and friends can sign up here. We also publish Balance of Power, a daily briefing on the latest in global politics.

For even more: Subscribe to Bloomberg All Access for full global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, The Bloomberg Open and The Bloomberg Close.

How are we doing? We want to hear what you think about this newsletter. Let our trade tsar know.

To contact the authors of this story: Dara Doyle in Dublin at ddoyle1@bloomberg.netJonathan Stearns in Brussels at jstearns2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Zoe Schneeweiss at zschneeweiss@bloomberg.net, Brendan Murray

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.