US wants a fair trade deal, Donald Trump tells EU leaders

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US wants a fair trade deal, Donald Trump tells EU leaders

Donald Trump met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the White House


European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meets Donald Trump (Evan Vucci/AP)
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meets Donald Trump (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Donald Trump has told European leaders that the US wants a “fair trade deal” with the European Union as both sides sought to defuse tensions in an escalating trade battle involving some of the world’s biggest economies.

Seated in the Oval Office, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker told Mr Trump that the two trading partners were “allies, not enemies” and said they needed to work together to address recent frictions involving Mr Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on car imports and EU plans to retaliate.

“We should talk about reducing tariffs instead of increasing them,” Mr Juncker said, as Mr Trump nodded.

The president again suggested the two sides could one day have no tariffs or barriers or subsidies on their products.

“We just want it to be a level playing field for our farmers, for our manufacturers, for everybody,” Mr Trump said, suggesting the EU could also be a “big beneficiary” of a revised trading agreement.

The negotiations at the White House came as Mr Trump has provoked a series of trade disputes with global trading partners, including China, whom he accused of employing “vicious” tactics aimed at hurting American farmers.

Mr Trump’s defence came after his administration announced a plan to provide 12 billion dollars (€10.2 billion) in emergency relief for farmers who have been slammed by the president’s trade disputes with China and other countries.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at an international summit in South Africa that the world faces “a choice between cooperation and confrontation,” in remarks that criticised escalating US tariffs on goods from China and other major trading partners. He warned that those who pursue “economic hegemony” will “only end up hurting themselves”.

Mr Trump has placed tariffs on imported steel and aluminium, saying they pose a threat to US national security, an argument that the European Union and Canada rejects. He has also threatened to slap tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts, potentially targeting imports that last year totalled 335 billion dollars (€285 billion).

The president has repeatedly called the EU – which includes many of the US’s oldest and most committed allies – an unfair trading partner and even labelled it a “foe”.

The EU has warned that it will retaliate with tariffs on products worth 20 billion dollars (€17 billion) if Mr Trump puts duties on cars and auto parts from Europe.

But any trade dispute involving cars would have major ramifications for both economies. The EU has a huge stake in the US industry, where European companies produce almost three million cars a year, accounting for over a quarter of production in the United States.

Press Association

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