Trump and top European leader agree to work toward zero tariffs
30 July, 2018, 22:42 | Author: Kathy Ellis
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.
Talks would seek to "resolve" US tariffs on steel and aluminum and Europe's retaliatory duties, a step back from Trump's import protections for USA metal producers.
Mr Trump also said the European Union had agreed to buy "a lot of soybeans" and increase its imports of liquefied natural gas from the US.
Trump's latest plan is to consider slapping tariffs on imported autos and auto parts - a move he says would aid American workers but that could inflate vehicle prices, make US manufacturers less competitive and draw retaliation from other nations.
Yet the truce reached Wednesday by President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker after a White House meeting produced few details and no commitments.
Russia's Gazprom PJSC, which provides more than a third of Europe's natural gas through pipelines from vast and cheap-to-operate Siberian fields, has repeatedly said US supplies will just be "drops". Other trading partners - including Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea - still face the threat of auto tariffs, which could land as early as September.
American farmers have been a particular target in the global clash over trade policy as other countries seek to retaliate for US duties on Chinese goods as well as on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico.
Juncker told Trump during a meeting in the Oval Office that the trade talks are important. China alone imported $12.3 billion of U.S. soybeans previous year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. and European Union are now working to resolve their differences over steel and aluminum - but the tariffs are still in place. The company said it now sees fewer SUV sales and higher costs at its Mercedes-Benz Cars division than previously expected as a result of the tariffs, and "this effect can not be fully compensated by the reallocation of vehicles to other markets". General Motors had slashed its outlook, and shares of Ford and auto parts companies had fallen.
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German producers and supplies employ more than 118,000 people at about 300 plants and manufacture more than 800,000 vehicles per year in the US - with more than half of the cars being exported, according to figures provided by the German automotive industry.
Mary Lovely, a Syracuse University economist who studies trade, said, "The Chinese are not going to be buying our soybeans, so nearly by musical chairs our soybeans are going to Europe". That's because China, by far the largest market for the crop, has imposed retaliatory tariffs on US soybeans, causing sales to shrink.
It was essentially a deal to make a deal, announced in celebratory fashion during a previously unannounced appearance in the White House Rose Garden.
"I think everybody sort of changed what they were going to say", said Sen. "The proposed solutions move in the right direction but a significant proportion of skepticism remains", the DIHK said. They argued that the taxes would raise auto prices, squeeze automakers by increasing the cost of imported components and invite retaliation from US trading partners - and allies - like the European Union and Canada.
To the relief of many, the United States and Europe have agreed to avert a trade war over autos and to work toward removing other barriers to trade.
Juncker said both sides agreed to "hold off on other tariffs" while talks proceed.
The Center for Automotive Research last week estimated that the potential import taxes of 20 percent to 25 percent on autos and auto parts would raise the price of an average vehicle by $4,400.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Thursday sought to circumscribe the European offering and signaled he expects further concessions from the U.S. Daniel Ikenson, director of trade studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, warned that the fight could flare up again if Trump grows impatient with Europe.
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