Minister Vilén: Interdependency between the United States and Europe increases

Washington, 22. 1. (STT) Päivi Sinisalo - Finnish-US trade relations are excellent, said Foreign Trade Minister Jari Vilén (Coalition Party) on a working visit to the United States.

Vilén began his visit on Tuesday night by meeting with US chief trade negotiator Robert Zoellick for a prolonged one and a half hours. They talked about issues related to the World Trade Organisation, WTO, and Russia’s entry. EU-US trade relations were also discussed.

“Ninety five percent of the trade is unproblematic”, emphasised Vilén but admitted there are disputes to be solved.

“There is economic interdependency and it will not disappear”, he said. The dispute over the steel tariffs strains the relations and Vilén urged Zoellick not to recommend an appeal by the United States but to remove the tariffs in case the WTO ruling would eventually favour the EU.

GM is a hot potato

Genetically modified foods were the primary concern of the hosts. “The US government’s patience is running low”, conveyd Vilén the mood in the US administration.

Americans are outraged by the fact that the genetically modified grain is not accepted as food aid in some African countries. Vilén said Americans are prepared to take the issue to the WTO. The foreign trade minister was glad to note there is great respect for Finnish views in the United States.

On Tuesday, Vilèn met also with Deputy Trade Secretary Samuel Bodman, and on Wednesday he will meet with Deputy Foreign Secretary for Trade Alan Larson.

From Washington, Vilén will travel to California to get versed in the latest outlook for the IT and media sectors. After California, he will fly to New York where he will meet with Finnish business as well as UN leaders.