Trump, Juncker agree on ‘new phase’ of EU-US relations
The United States has agreed to work towards lowering trade barriers with the European Union, Donald Trump said after a meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.
Photo credit: Press Association
After a meeting in Washington on Wednesday, the two agreed to launch a "new phase" in relations and work towards zero tariffs.
The two also agreed to increase trade in services and agriculture, including greater US soy bean exports to the EU.
The agreement come amid heightened tensions between the US and EU.
The pair also agreed to hold off imposing any further tariffs while negotiations take place - something Juncker called a "major concession" by the president - and to work towards reform of the World Trade Organization.
Juncker said striking a deal on zero tariffs on industrial goods was his "main intention", adding, "I had one intention today, to make a deal, and we made a deal. We have a number of areas on which to work together.”
No announcement was made on auto tariffs, and it was not clear whether any progress had been made on resolving the issue. President Trump, who has been highly critical of the EU since taking office and has also praised Brexit, had threatened to impose 25 per cent tariffs on European auto imports.
In a set-piece speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Juncker said: “Whatever future lies ahead, our partnership with the United States must continue to be a driving force for both sides and for the world. As was reaffirmed by the US Congress just last year on the occasion of our 60th anniversary, the transatlantic partnership is enduring.
“We have been through thick and thin together, through different administrations and political cycles. Our friendship runs much deeper than that – just like the people of Wiltz in Luxembourg will tell you.(Major Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45) And this today was a good day for the transatlantic partnership, for Europe and for the United States of America.”
Juncker told the audience, “Our economies are more intertwined than at any point in history. The challenges we face are global in nature, from the pressures of climate change to migration, to peace and security across the world. Now is the time for a responsible global leadership. Time to renew our partnership by falling back on what unites us: trust, values, shared interests. The transatlantic partnership must remain the anchor of global stability and the driver of our common prosperity.
“We have been through thick and thin together, through different administrations and political cycles. Our friendship runs much deeper than that – just like the people of Wiltz in Luxembourg will tell you.(Major Battle of the Bulge in 1944-45) And this today was a good day for the transatlantic partnership, for Europe and for the United States of America” European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker
He added, “And nowhere is this more important than when it comes to trade. The economic relationship between the United States and Europe is the largest and most important in the world. We trade roughly one trillion dollars' worth of goods and services every year – that is nearly a third of global trade. The trade between us creates jobs on both sides of the Atlantic – 6.9 million of them in the United States, 4.7 million jobs in the EU.”
He noted, “The simple truth is that Europe is good for American business. U.S. companies earn more than twice as much exporting goods to the European Union as they do exporting to China. And more than 70 per cent of all foreign direct investment in the US comes from Europe. We have a trading partnership that is balanced and works for both sides. Yes, we export more goods to the United States than we import. But when it comes to services, the US has a trade surplus of €45bn.”
Juncker, who has previously spoken out against US tariffs on steel and aluminium, said, “And just as we share the same concerns, we also have common opportunities that we need to capitalise on. President Trump and I discussed many of them today.”
“Take energy: In 2016, the first U.S. boat exporting American liquefied natural gas docked in the coast of Portugal. We are ready to invest in infrastructure and new terminals which could welcome imports of LNG from the United States and elsewhere – but mainly from the United States, if the conditions were right and prices competitive.”
The commission chief went on, “This is part of today's agreement: to increase the import of liquefied gas and soya beans. Because already now the European Union is importing 35 per cent of its soya beans consumption from the US. This has to be brought to a more ambitious level. All this shows that Europe will always have its hand outstretched to the United States.”
“We will always look for areas where we can work together on a mutually beneficial basis. But at the same time, we must take our future into our own hands. This means making ourselves more united and more responsible at home.”
He told the US audience, “That means defending ourselves with all legal means when we face unfair practices or have unfair measures aimed at us. That means making the most of opportunities with like-minded partners across the world, just as we have done with Japan and Canada, as we are doing with countries in Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and as we did today at the White House.
“It means working to improve and shape the global rules-based system so that it continues to deliver the peace, prosperity and progress it has done for so many decades.”
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