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Jul 12, 2013

U.S., EU negotiators say trade talks off to a good start

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Talks on a landmark free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union are off to a good start, U.S. and EU officials said on Friday, despite reports about U.S. spying that have raised concerns across Europe.

“From the point of view of the European Union, the work this week has been very productive,” chief EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero told reporters at a joint news conference with his U.S. counterpart, Daniel Mullaney.

Jul 12, 2013

U.S. trade chief urges India to heed U.S. companies’ complaints

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urged India on Thursday to reverse course on policies that he said discriminated against American companies and were fraying relations between the world’s two largest democracies.

“Let me stress that as a friend of India and one of the caretakers of our economic relationship, I am concerned about the investment and innovation environment in India,” Froman said in a speech to the U.S.-India Business Council.

Jul 10, 2013

North American group sets Bangladesh factory safety plan

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North American retailers unveiled a five-year safety plan for Bangladesh garment factories on Wednesday that would include inspecting within a year every factory they use, following tragedies such as April’s deadly garment building collapse.

The North American plan was immediately criticized by groups that think a European-led plan is stronger.

Jul 10, 2013

Smithfield CEO faces Senate heat over sale to China

WASHINGTON, July 10 (Reuters) – The head of Smithfield Foods
on Wednesday faced tough questioning from U.S. lawmakers
concerned the proposed sale of Virginia ham maker to China’s
largest pork producer could hurt U.S. food safety and lead to
higher prices for American consumers.

“I think to your constituents back home, it’s the same old
Smithfield,” company President Larry Pope told members of the
Senate Agriculture Committee. “Nothing’s going to change. This
is going to be an American company. We will continue to operate
like an American company.”

Jul 10, 2013

Smithfield sale won’t harm U.S. food safety or security: CEO

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of Smithfield Foods (SFD.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) sought to reassure U.S. legislators on Wednesday that the deal to sell the Virginia ham maker to China’s largest pork producer would not jeopardize the safety or security of the American food supply.

“Smithfield will continue to produce pork in a safe and responsible way for U.S. consumers, in full compliance with the standards and the regulations of the USDA, FDA and other federal and state authorities,” Smithfield President Larry Pope told the Senate Agriculture Committee in prepared testimony.

Jul 8, 2013

US, EU free start free-trade talks despite spying concerns

WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) – The United States and the
European Union began talks on Monday on a landmark bilateral
free trade agreement, despite European concerns about U.S.
spying that had threatened to delay the start after nearly two
years of preparation.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman touted the economic
benefits a deal would bring, not just for the United States and
Europe but for the global trading system.

Jul 8, 2013

After long buildup, U.S.-EU free trade talks finally begin

WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) – The United States and the
European Union, after nearly two years of preparation, start
talks on Monday aimed at securing a free-trade agreement to
squeeze new economic growth out of the world’s largest trade and
investment relationship.

“We go into these negotiations with the goal of achieving
the broadest possible, most comprehensive agreement that we
can,” U.S. Trade Representative Mike Froman told Reuters.

Jul 2, 2013

Detroit Three urge 30-year tariff phase-out on Japan cars

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Detroit automakers, following a failed effort to keep Japan out of regional free trade talks, outlined their fallback position on Tuesday, including a demand that U.S. auto tariffs be phased out in no less than 25 to 30 years.

The pact also must include “strong and enforceable provisions to prevent Japan from intervening in currency markets to depress the value of the yen,” Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, said.

Jun 28, 2013

U.S. suspends trade benefits for Bangladesh over safety

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama cut off long-time U.S. trade benefits for Bangladesh on Thursday in a mostly symbolic response to conditions in the country’s garment industry that have cost more than 1,200 lives in the past year.

The U.S. move does not directly affect Bangladesh’s multi-billion-dollar clothing exports, since garments are not eligible for U.S. duty cuts. But it could prompt the European Union into similar action, which would have a bigger impact as Bangladesh’s clothing and textiles exports to the EU are duty-free.

Jun 27, 2013

U.S. to suspend trade benefits for Bangladesh -source

WASHINGTON, June 27 (Reuters) – President Barack Obama is
expected to announce on Thursday that the United States is
suspending U.S. trade benefits for Bangladesh because of
wretched safety conditions in that country’s garment sector that
have cost more than 1,200 lives in the past year, a
congressional source said.

The mostly symbolic U.S. gesture follows the collapse of the
Rana Plaza garment factory building in April that killed 1,129
people and the Tazreen factory fire in November that killed 112.