President Donald Trump told reporters in Davos he is confident in striking a trade deal with Europe as the threat of tariffs looms large.
“Were going to make a deal I suspect, otherwise well have to do something else,” Trump told a news conference at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland on Wednesday.
“They have no choice,” Trump said in a separate interview, underscoring his conviction that a deal between the United States and its biggest import trading partner will end up signed.
A day earlier, Trump said that unless a “fair deal” is negotiated with the EU, he would impose tariffs on U.S. imports of European cars.
“They know that Im going to put tariffs on them if they dont make a deal thats a fair deal,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal in Davos on Jan. 21, referring to automobiles, the blocs key export.
While Trump has not specified when he would greenlight fresh tariffs on cars, the Financial Times reported it would be before the November elections.
“I have a date in my mind, it is a fairly quick date,” he said, according to the FT.
During a Jan. 21 meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Trump talked up the prospects of a deal, while acknowledging obstacles.
“Its great to be with the president of the European Commission and a woman whos highly respected, I have to say, and I hear a very tough negotiator, which is bad news for us because were going to talk about a big trade deal, and weve been talking about it for a while, and hopefully we can get something done,” Trump said.
Touting the long-standing relationship between Europe and the United States, Von der Leyen struck a similarly hopeful note, but noted there were unresolved matters still to be ironed out.
“The American people and the European people are good friends,” Von der Leyen said. “And this is what were going to build on, and indeed, we have issues to discuss, and were going to negotiate. But Im looking forward to this relationship.”
Differences remain over issues like agriculture, digital tax, and auto import duties.
Tariffs All Over the Place
Trump has complained the bilateral trade relationship is skewed to Americas detriment.
“They have trade barriers where you cannot trade, they have tariffs all over the place. They make it impossible,” Trump told reporters in Davos on Wednesday.
U.S. trade with the EU totaled nearly $1.3 trillion in 2018, with a $109 billion deficit, according to statistics from the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR). Machinery ($80.2 billion), pharmaceuticals ($71.9 billion), and vehicles ($56.4 billion) ranked as the top three import categories.
In 2018, the United States was the largest partner for EU exports of goods (21 percent) and the second-largest partner for EU imports of goods (13 percent), according to Eurostat, the European Unions statistical service.
“Despite this significant trade volume, U.S. exporters in key sectors have been challenged by multiple tariff and non-tariff barriers for decades, leading to chronic U.S. trade imbalances with the EU,” states a Summary of Specific Negotiating Objectives (pdf), published last year by the United States Trade Representative.
The EU applies a 10 percent tariff on passenger vehicles and 22 percent on trucks. In contrast, the United States imposes a maximum 2.5 percent tariff on imported passenger cars and a 25 percent tariff on pickup trucks and work vans.
The Trump administration launched a “Section 232” probe of foreign autos in May 2018, after which Trump agreed with conclusions that some imported vehicles and components are “weakening our internal economy” and could harm national security.
As U.S.-EU trade negotiations have made little progress over the past year, the White House has repeatedly threatened to slap tarRead More – Source