Trump says agreed with EU to work to lower trade barriers

Sean Reid
July 26, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump and the European Union's chief executive, Jean-Claude Juncker, agreed on Wednesday to work toward eliminating trade barriers on industrial goods, as Trump appeared to give ground on his threat to impose vehicle tariffs.

Both sides pledged on Wednesday to lower some industrial tariffs and increase Europe's purchases of USA soybeans and liquefied natural gas - both potential weapons for Beijing in its trade war with Washington - while moving to re-examine existing United States tariffs on steel and aluminium and retaliatory ones from Europe.

On March 1, Trump announced that the US would be imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on all aluminum imports.

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said the last-minute stagecraft, in which President Donald Trump announced an agreement in principle on trade along with European Commission president Jean-Claude Junker, was taking shape even as the Republican House and Senate members were arriving at the White House.

In other words, fearful that Trump was about to turn the trade war nuclear with auto tariffs (against the advice of his own staff, per WaPo), it sounds like Juncker did some eleventh-hour diplomacy to hold him off.

Trump announced that the European Union will be buying "a lot more" soybeans from the United States, and that Brussels and Washington will work to eliminate tariffs, barriers and subsidies on "non-auto industrial goods". The E.U. subsequently retaliated with tariffs on a number of US goods.

Politicians Tuesday announced that $12 billion would go back to American farmers as form of tariff relief.

Kenny says the collateral damage of the Trump administration's trade war is real.

While the U.S. president can claim his aggressive approach is working, consumers, farmers and businesses are feeling the pain from the retaliatory measures imposed to counter the raft of USA tariffs on steel, aluminum, and tens of billions of dollars in products from China put in place in recent weeks.

Recently, Trump has threatened a 25% tariff on European autos, a warning that seems to have been staved off.

The Market Facilitation program will distribute the bulk of the money to farmers and ranchers producing commodities directly impacted by the tariffs, including soybeans, sorghum, corn, wheat, cotton, and pork.

The two have been meeting at the White House Wednesday, amid tensions over trade. As the man himself said on Twitter Wednesday, any lawmaker who questions his tariffs is "weak".

"This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire US economy", Secretary Perdue said.

Juncker came to Washington for a last-ditch bid to avoid US tariffs on cars.

Mr Trump has called the meeting productive.

He has slapped taxes on imported steel and aluminum, saying they pose a threat to US national security.

The Trump administration said it would use a Great Depression-era program to pay up to $12 billion to help United States farmers. More than 80 witnesses are scheduled to testify during a two-day trade hearing starting in Washington Tuesday focused on products from resins and chemicals to large freight containers, electric bicycles and vaping devices.

Trump is tweeting that trade partners need to either negotiate a "fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs".

While the European Union agreements to buy more US soybeans and energy were tangible, the bigger result of the meeting may have been the retreat from the threat of a full-scale trade war between the two sides.

The president has repeatedly called the European Union - which includes numerous U.S.'s oldest and most committed allies - an unfair trading partner and even labeled it a "foe".

The response to the announcement was mixed, with many legislators criticizing the plan, calling it "welfare for farmers", and farm groups pleading for a more lasting solution. "The uncertainty being created over the last couple months is hurting us a lot, our prices are down approximately 20 percent from prior to the tariffs going on to where they are now", said Danielson.

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