By Josh Wingrove, Jordan Fabian, and Shawn Donnan
President Donald Trump is gearing up another attempt at trade talks with the
European Union and is hopeful the two can reach a “big trade deal,” with the
head of the European Commission calling on the sides to draw on their
similarities as the process unfolds.
“A deal between ourselves and essentially Europe is something we all want to
be able to make,” Trump told reporters Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland,
repeating a threat to impose tariffs on imported European cars if trade talks
Speaking during a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von
der Leyen, he said she is known as a “very tough negotiator, which is bad news
for us, because we’re going to talk about a big trade deal.”
The meeting comes as President Emmanuel Macron of France and Trump
agreed Monday to a truce in their dispute over digital taxes that will mean
neither France nor the U.S. will impose punitive tariffs this year.
It also came 18 months after Trump promised to park his auto tariffs after
reaching a truce with Von der Leyen’s predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, that
was supposed to clear the way for negotiations over reducing industrial tariffs.
Those negotiations have never gone anywhere largely because Congress has
objected to agriculture not being included in the discussions.
Intrigue has also surrounded Trump’s auto-tariffs threat since the
administration passed through a deadline for action last year without doing
anything. Some senior officials in the White House are known to oppose
moving ahead with the duties on vehicles, arguing they would be too
Von der Leyen said the U.S. and EU “never should forget” their “long history
of common foundation.”
The nations share “a lot of business contacts, friendship, youth exchange,
science, culture since way more than 70 years so the American people and the
European people are good friends,” she said. “We have issues to discuss and
we will negotiate.”
But the new European Commission that Von der Leyen leads has already
taken a more aggressive approach to trade.
The new EU trade commissioner, Phil Hogan, on a visit to Washington last
week called Trump’s tariff threats short-sighted electioneering and warned
that the EU would fight back if Trump imposed any tariffs.
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