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Ambassador Kirk Meets with EU Trade Commissioner De Gucht, Speaks with European Business Leaders

This morning, Ambassador Kirk met with John Dalli, the new European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy. Ambassador Kirk wanted to meet with Commissioner Dalli because the Commissioner and the EU institutions he supervises play a key role in setting EU policies and regulations that have had an adverse impact on U.S. exports to the EU in recent decades, particularly in the agricultural and food product sectors. Ambassador Kirk conveyed to Commissioner Dalli the U.S. government's interest in exploring new ways to address concerns about sanitary and phytosanitary measures that may not be justified by scientific assessments of risk to people, animals, or the environment.

Ambassador Kirk then spoke at a luncheon hosted by three business groups: the American Chamber of Commerce EU chapter, the leading European business confederation, (BusinessEurope), and the American Chamber of Commerce in Belgium. In his remarks, Ambassador Kirk addressed the role of trade in supporting global economic recovery and the creation of better-paying jobs in the 21st century. Ambassador Kirk also underscored the importance of the U.S.-EU trade relationship to each side's economy and to global prosperity.

Ambassador Kirk met late this afternoon with new EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, his principal European Commission counterpart. The 90-minute discussion covered the Doha negotiations and key issues in the U.S.-EU trade relationship. Ambassador Kirk and Commissioner De Gucht share the goal of resolving existing trade conflicts and identifying new ways in which USTR and the European Commission Trade Directorate can move forward on a trade relationship that both agree will be a critical factor in each side's economic performance and competitiveness in the coming decades. One focus of their discussion - and a likely priority for ongoing work - was the challenge posed by non-tariff barriers to trade and investment that are rooted in differences in the ways the United States and the EU regulate for purposes of health, safety, and the environment. Ambassador Kirk and Commissioner De Gucht held a press conference after the meeting. You can watch video of the press conference here.

Ambassador Kirk also met with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso today. As the head of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, President Barroso, who began his second five-year term last fall, is one of the most powerful leaders in Europe. Ambassador Kirk focused on U.S. ambitions for the Doha Round during the meeting.