Macron Reaffirms Agriculture Has No Place in U.S. Trade Talks

(Bloomberg) -- French President Emmanuel Macron underlined his opposition to including agriculture in coming trade talks with the U.S. in a speech to farmers on Saturday.

Europe needs a coherent trade policy if it wants to protect its farmers and consumers, he said in a speech at the annual Paris agricultural fair. No trade agreement would be authorized with products that don’t respect European environmental, health and social standards -- “it’s our red line,” he said.

Macron said it would be “absurd” to demand that European producers meet certain standards, while at the same time signing trade accords with countries that don’t respect those standards. It would mean reducing competitiveness among European farmers, without any guarantee of quality for consumers.

“That’s why France, along with the European Commission, has opposed any trade negotiations with the United States on agricultural products,” he said.

‘Ambitious Budget’

Speaking three months ahead of European elections, Macron said the bloc’s agriculture industry was under threat both from major foreign economic powers, as well as internally, and called for the European Union’s Common Agriculture Policy to be reinvented.

The president said France is fighting for an “ambitious budget” for the CAP in Brussels that would take into account Britain’s planned exit from the EU at the end of March but “not one euro more.”

Macron’s traditional presidential visit to the farm show came as France’s Yellow Vests held a 15th consecutive Saturday of protests against the government’s policies. A French poll by BVA published on Saturday showed Macron’s party was in the lead with 25 percent of voting intentions ahead of the May EU elections, while the Yellow Vests would have 4 percent of the vote if they were to put up candidates.

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