Trump, European Union leaders pull back from trade war

Trump, European Union leaders pull back from trade war

President Donald Trump claimed Thursday he has "opened" European markets for USA agricultural products, touting himself as a champion of skeptical American farmers.

Trump said he expected "something very positive to take place" during the White House talks - after sending a series of tweets blasting Europe for unfair treatment of United States exports.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates American farmers face 25 percent tariffs on more than $12 billion worth of soybean exports to China.

"Tariffs were, are and will not be great, even if the USA president claims as such in his tweets", DIHK chambers of industry and commerce president Eric Schweitzer said. Similar negotiations were already underway for several years as part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership during the Obama administration; however, they were halted indefinitely in late 2016.

He said the two sides had also agreed to work together to reform the World Trade Organisation, which Mr Trump has vehemently criticised as being unfair to the US.

"If they're willing to make serious changes just as the European Union did yesterday, we'll negotiate with China any time", he told reporters at the White House following his television interview.

On Wednesday, the pair 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.

Auto tariffs at that level would add about 10,000 euros (US$11,700) to the sticker price of a European-built vehicle sold in the United States, according a European Commission assessment obtained by Bloomberg News last month.

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The president has repeatedly called the European Union - which includes numerous U.S.' oldest and most committed allies - an unfair trading partner and even labeled it a "foe". The daily reports that the European Union leaders had agreed to this move back in May, even though U.S. gas is as much as 20% more expensive than Russian gas delivered to the EU.

He tweeted that China was specifically targeting USA farmers with retaliatory tariffs because "they know I love & respect" them.

Mr Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on imported cars, prompting the Europeans to suggest they may place tariffs on 20 billion dollars (£15 billion) of American goods in retaliation.

Trump backed off from his threat to slap hefty tariffs on automotive imports as part of the agreement.

Malmstrom also touted the meeting as a breakthrough on Twitter.

The EU will buy United States soybeans and natural gas from the U.S. with levies on steel and aluminium imports to remain in place in the wake of the visit. "Any trade deal must be based on reciprocity", he said in remarks distributed by his office.

As Trump keeps escalating the trade dispute, China is now playing down its "Made in China 2025"-an important plan of the country to become a tech superpower in 10 hi-tech areas-by ordering state media to minimize their coverage of it". Trump said he is working on the steel and aluminum tariffs.

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