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American, European Leaders Begin Trade Conference in Spain : Meeting: First-day’s speakers emphasize importance of two regions’ relationship.

From Reuters

More than a hundred business leaders and government officials from the United States and Europe started a weekend meeting Friday aimed at clearing the last barriers to trade between the two economic blocs.

The hosts of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue are U.S. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown and European Commissioners Leon Brittan and Martin Bangemann.

“At the end of the day the relationship between Europe and the United States is, remains and must be the most important relationship for both Europe and the U.S.,” Brittan told the conference. “We do not offer a blank check in advance. But if the business communities on both sides of the Atlantic will tell us what to do and what not to do . . . we will listen.”

Spain’s Trade and Tourism Minister Javier Gomez Navarro, representing the rotating European presidency, told the business leaders that the government would keenly listen to any proposals.

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“I cannot stress enough the importance of the Atlantic Ocean as the tie that binds our economies and opens the door to opportunity for our business communities, thereby benefiting millions of consumers, new jobs and increased production,” he said.

The politicians’ aim is to listen to suggestions from business leaders on how to improve trade relations between the European Union countries and the United States.

“We must make concrete proposals to our governments,” said Paul Allaire, chairman of Xerox Corp., who called for a blue-print for action and a strict timetable for implementation.

The business executives are expected to complain about non-tariff trade barriers such as differences in regulation or approval procedures.

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The recommendations of the conference will go on the agenda of a summit meeting between President Clinton and European leaders in Madrid on Dec. 3.

Tariffs have been discussed in the Uruguay round of trade talks and monitored by the World Trade Organization. But for industries such as automobiles, consumer electronics and pharmaceuticals, life would be much easier if standards were the same in both markets.


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