Washington, Feb 20 (EFE).- US President Donald Trump renewed Wednesday his threat to impose tariffs on imported European automobiles if his administration cannot reach an agreement with the European Union to reform the trans-Atlantic trade relationship.
The issue was raised by a reporter as Trump welcomed Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House for talks.
“We’re trying to make a deal. They’re very tough to make a deal with – the EU. They’ve been very difficult over a period of time – over many, many years. And so it’s something we think about, and we’re negotiating with them. If we don’t make the deal, we’ll do the tariffs,” the president said.
Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has insisted on the need for the EU to facilitate easier access of American products to the European market and threatened to levy tariffs of up to 20 percent on European cars bound for the United States.
This week, the president received a report from the US Commerce Department about the potential negative impact of imported cars and vehicle parts, but his statements on Wednesday suggest he does not plan to impose auto tariffs during the negotiations with the EU.
“We lose about $151 billion (a year) trading with the EU,” Trump said. “That’s a lot of money. And this has been going on for many years.
They wouldn’t meet with the Obama administration, and they’re meeting with us. So we’ll see what happens. We’ll see what happens.”
The foreign trade committee of the European Parliament gave its approval on Tuesday for the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to initiate trade negotiations with the US. It also approved including automobiles in the conversations.
At the same time, the European legislators called for suspending talks with Washington if the US imposes additional tariffs on European products.
Washington has already imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU and other trading partners as part of an aggressive protectionist agenda. Brussels has responded in kind with levies on imports from the US.
Asked what role he expected Kurz to play in EU policy, Trump replied: “Well, we’re just going to have a great meeting. We have a great relationship and our countries have a great relationship.”
The president also commented on the youth of the 32-year-old Austrian chancellor.
“And he’s a very young leader, I have to tell you. You are a young guy,” Trump said.