Republicans visiting White House surprised by European Union trade announcement

Anna Jefferson
July 26, 2018

USA president Donald Trump and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday appeared outside the White House confirming they had agreed to stave off proposed vehicle tariffs during negotiations.

The leaders agreed to "launch a new phase" in the relationship and "to work together towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods", Trump said.

"I know that Trump's tariffs targeting China will have some effect, but we're not anxious at all, since we're producing foreign flags every single day", she said. "And the European Union is going to start, nearly immediately, to buy a lot of soybeans", Mr Trump told reporters after the meeting.

Earlier in the Oval Office, Juncker told Trump that the two trading partners were "allies, not enemies", and said they needed to work together to address recent frictions involving Trump's threats to impose tariffs on auto imports and European Union plans to retaliate.

Juncker declared he "had the intention to make a deal today and we made a deal today".

The two would work for zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto goods, he said.

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"This is a short-term bridge to help President Trump negotiate trade deals".

The EU announced earlier that it would proportionally respond to American trade tariffs, as well as initiate proceedings as part of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

"We had a big day, very big", Mr Trump said at a joint statement with Mr Juncker at the White House on Wednesday, US time.

Mr Juncker thanked the president and hailed a "good, constructive meeting".

"We are close partners, allies - not enemies", Juncker said as Trump nodded and said, "Yes".

Trump has insisted in recent months on the need for the EU to agree to his demands to facilitate U.S. access to the European market and has threatened to impose tariffs of up to 20 per cent on imports of European automobiles if the bloc did not make concessions to Washington.

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But when threatened with tariffs on autos and auto parts, European Union officials rushed to come to Washington, Mr Trump claimed. His words suggested he was open to something resembling the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, a proposed U.S. -Europe agreement on which negotiations have stopped.

In the first acknowledgment by President Donald Trump's administration that his aggressive trade actions are hurting Americans, the government on Tuesday announced $12 billion in aid for farmers who have been the primary targets of retaliation.

"We agreed that no other tariffs would be introduced as long as we are in the negotiations", Juncker said during a speech in Washington after his press conference with Trump.

On the other side, Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin released a statement, saying the state of Wisconsin has already lost 500 dairy farmers in the past year. The upcoming talks are viewed by various experts as the last chance to avert a full-scale trade war between the United States and the European Union.

He added that there would be an increase on trade in services and agriculture.

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced a multibillion-dollar aid package for USA farmers caught up in the trade tussle.

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U.S. import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, implemented in March, will remain in place during the talks.

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