US and EU need to overcome tensions

As the U.S. election looms, it is time for both sides of the Atlantic to repair outstanding divisions, the former EU trade chief told CNBC Thursday. 

The White House and the European Union, which encompasses 27 nations, have clashed in recent years over international trade, foreign policy and taxation — to name but a few points of tension.

However, as the U.S. gets ready to head to the polls in November, there’s a chance to overcome some of these differences, Cecilia Malmstrom, a candidate for the top job of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), said.

“Despite some tensions right now we need to try to repair it, to strengthen it, with whoever is at the White House after the elections in November,” Malmstrom told CNBC’s Squawk Box Europe. 

Malmstrom served as the European trade chief between 2014 and 2019 and during that time, she tried to negotiate a broad agreement with the United States under former President Barack Obama. Any progress was ended by President Donald Trump when he was elected in 2016, however, as he argued it was a “bad deal.”

Since then, European efforts to develop new trade arrangements with the U.S. have mostly been in vain.

“I am sure that Europe, the country I come from Sweden, and the OECD — whoever leads it — can cooperate with the U.S.,” Malmstrom said, adding that it might be with “different tactics and priorities depending on who is at the White House.”

Averages of recent general election polls, as of Wednesday, suggest Joe Biden is likely to beat President Trump in November. However, Biden’s lead is narrowing.

Malmstrom was nominated by the Swedish government earlier this week to replace Angel Gurria at the helm of the OECD.

President Trump said Wednesday that he intends to nominate Christopher P. Liddell, a deputy chief of staff at the White House, for the same role at the Paris-based institution.

The nomination period ends in October and the new Secretary General will start in June of next year.

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