Saturday

17th Apr 2021

Juncker seeks to avoid car tariffs in Trump meeting

  • Juncker (l) to represent EU interests in Washington (Photo: European Commission)

Two top EU officials are in Washington to avert a trade clash on cars, but Donald Trump's tweets bode ill for the meeting.

European Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom will meet Trump, the US president, and his treasury chief, Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday (25 July).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • German car makers would be hardest hit (Photo: Audi)

The visit comes after Trump imposed tariffs on EU steel and aluminium, prompting a retaliation on US products, such as whisky and motorcycles.

The fear is that Trump will next impose tariffs on EU car exports, escalating the dispute.

It also comes after Trump called the EU a "foe" on trade, amid wider concern that the White House no longer sees Europe as its strategic ally on the world stage.

The EU commission told press on Monday and Tuesday that Juncker was not going to the US with a new EU offer on trade.

But the EU has in the past floated two ideas to prevent car price wars - getting all big car makers around the world to drop tariffs or agreeing a limited EU-US free trade deal on goods.

"This is an occasion to de-dramatise any potential tensions around trade and engage in an open and constructive dialogue," Juncker's spokesman said on Monday.

"There are no offers. This is a discussion, it is a dialogue and it is an opportunity to talk," the spokesman added.

"We want to diffuse the situation as soon as possible, to de-escalate this before it blows up in our faces, doing harm to the transatlantic relationship, our economies, and the global order," Malmstrom said last week.

Trump noises on the eve of the talks tended in the opposite direction, however.

"Tariffs are the greatest!", he tweeted.

"Countries that have treated us unfairly on trade for years are all coming to Washington to negotiate," he said.

"I have an idea for them. Both the US and the EU drop all tariffs, barriers and subsidies! … Hope they do it, we are ready - but they won't!," he added.

For his part, Germany's foreign affairs minister, Heiko Maas, whose country stands to lose the most in the looming cars clash, also took a firm line.

"We are not heading into negotiations with a pistol at our chest. I don't think threats bring us closer to a solution," he told German public TV station ARD on Tuesday.

"We will not be threatened and climb down so easily … In the end, all sides would lose, also the Americans," he said.

His words echoed French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, who also said over the weekend that the EU would not negotiate "with a gun to our head".

Up to 120,000 US jobs depended on EU car imports, with a tariff war putting these at risk, the EU warned in an 11-page study sent to the US ahead of Wednesday's meeting.

If the dispute escalated, it could also wipe 0.5 percent off global growth, the International Monetary Fund has warned.

That figure could be as high as 2 percent, the Bank of England said.

It would also affect business confidence in open markets for years to come, the British bank chief, Mark Carney, said.

Mr Juncker goes to Washington

European Commission president will meet US president Donald Trump before the end of July to try to "de-dramatise" the tense trade relations.

EU and US kiss and make up on trade

The US will not impose tariffs on EU cars and might take back ones on steel and aluminium, according to a magical Trump-Juncker deal.

Analysis

Did Juncker trick Trump?

The EU commission chief agreed to trade talks even if the US president did not lift tariffs on steel and aluminium. But he avoided tariffs on cars and obtained a commitment to refrain from new unilateral moves.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us