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.
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.