Trump secures concessions to avoid US-EU trade war

AP  Jae C. Hong

In a joint Rose Garden appearance with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Trump announced significant trade concessions that would boost US exports in several sectors.

In a joint statement, Trump and Juncker agreed to "work together towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods", but offered few specifics beyond the vague promises to increase soybean and natural gas trade.

After a meeting with Juncker at the White House on Wednesday, Trump agreed to refrain from imposing vehicle tariffs while they start talks on cutting other trade barriers.

The government's action points to administration concern about damage to USA farmers from Trump's trade tariffs and the potential for losing House and Senate seats in the Midwest and elsewhere. Today's agreement specifically deals only with "non-auto industrial goods" but Juncker and his team have been hammering the point that they hope/expect that no further tariffs will be imposed by either side so long as negotiations are ongoing.

Trump added they would try to "resolve" steel and aluminum tariffs he imposed earlier this year and retaliatory duties the European Union levied in response. His defense came after his administration announced a plan to provide $12 billion in emergency relief for farmers who have been slammed by the president's trade disputes with China and other countries.

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He wasn't the only member of Trump's party to vent after the administration pledged to provide up to $12 billion in aid for USA farmers to shield them from the effects of trade disputes cultivated by the White House itself.

Recently, Trump has threatened a 25% tariff on European autos, a warning that seems to have been staved off.

What's the impact of the tariffs?

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., said the proposal was raised a month ago when senators visited the White House for a broad discussion on trade.

This comes as President Donald Trump appears at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City in the heart of the nation's farm country.

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Mr. Trump also said the USA and European Union would work "closely together" to reform the World Trade Organization and would launch an "executive working group" to implement their joint agenda. It involves direct payments to farmers, the purchase of excess food and trade promotion programs to help create new export markets.

The Agriculture Department predicted before the trade fights that USA farm income would drop this year to $60 billion, or half the $120 billion of five years ago.

Trump is tweeting that trade partners need to either negotiate a "fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs".

Still, the deal announced Wednesday with the European Union is an encouraging sign that America's trade partners may be able to placate the Trump administration with offers to buy more USA goods, averting a trade war that the International Monetary Fund has warned may undermine the strongest global upswing in years.

"That's not free trade, that's fool's trade, that's stupid trade and we don't do that kind of trade anymore", stressed Trump.

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They also said they would cooperate to reform the rules of the World Trade Organization. He said the US will be making it easier for the E.U.to do so in order to "diversify their energy supply, which they want very much to do". On Tuesday, his administration said it would use a Depression-era program to pay farmers up to $12bn, easing the pain for a politically important Trump constituency.

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