YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Common Mart Orders Talks to Avert Trade War

January 26, 1987|Associated Press

BRUSSELS — Foreign ministers of the European Community instructed the bloc's top trade negotiator today to resume efforts to avert a "seriously damaging" trade war with the United States.

The move comes just days before the threatened imposition of punitive U.S. import duties against Common Market farm products.

The 12 ministers said they wanted to avoid an escalation of trade tensions and called on the Reagan Administration to "make its contribution" to finding an equitable compromise.

Willy de Clercq, head of the EC negotiating team, was instructed to resume contacts with U.S. trade representative Clayton Yeutter in search of an 11th-hour settlement, officials said. The two met last Friday and Saturday in Washington but failed to reach agreement.

Products Targeted

The Reagan Administration has said it would impose punitive import duties of up to 200% on selected European products--including white wines, brandy, gin, canned ham, endive, cheeses, carrots and olives--this Friday if there is no agreement on the core issue of U.S. grain sales to Spain.

The American negotiators are insisting on $400 million in compensation for lost grain sales to Spain since Madrid raised its import tariffs one year ago as a condition of joining the Common Market, or EC.

The EC foreign ministers reaffirmed that any U.S. punitive measures would be answered swiftly by retaliation against American exports, according to European sources.

The officials would give no details of De Clercq's negotiating instructions but one informed source quoted him as having told the ministers, "With this I can get something."

Francoise Le Bail, a spokeswoman for De Clercq, said he was expected to talk with Yeutter in a transatlantic teleconference on Tuesday and to report the outcome to EC ambassadors on Thursday in Brussels.

Los Angeles Times Articles