American Shipper

U.S., EU agree to reduce trade barriers

President Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announce they will work to reduce trade tensions.

   Amid trade tensions, the leaders of the United States and European Commission on Wednesday agreed to work toward no tariffs in non-automotive industrial goods, seek to resolve current global steel and aluminum tariffs, and hold off on imposing any new tariffs as long as their countries remain in negotiations, among other things.
   Speaking outside the White House after reaching a deal with the Trump administration, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.S. and EU have agreed to “reassess” U.S. Section 232 duties first imposed on steel and aluminum from the EU in June, as well as the EU’s retaliatory tariffs.
   “When I was invited by the president to the White House, I had one intention: I had the intention to make a deal today,” Juncker said during a joint address with President Donald Trump outside the White House. “And we made a deal today.”
   The EU will import more soybeans and liquefied natural gas as part of the deal, Juncker and Trump said.
   The rapprochement occurred just after Trump threw barbs at the EU on Twitter, writing on Tuesday morning, “Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the ‘piggy bank’ that’s being robbed. All will be Great!”
   The trading partners, which account for $1 trillion in annual trade, also agreed to launch a “close dialogue on standards in order to ease trade, reduce bureaucratic obstacles and slash costs dramatically,” Trump said. The two sides also will work toward zero non-tariff barriers.
   The U.S. and EU are launching an executive working group to carry out a joint trade agenda, identifying short-term measures to facilitate commercial exchanges and assess existing tariff measures and what can be done “about that to the betterment of both,” Trump said.
   “While we are working on this, we will not go against the spirit of this agreement, unless either party terminates the negotiation,” he said. “So we’re starting the negotiation right now, but we know very much where it’s going.”
   Finally, the historical allies will closely work together with “like-minded partners” to “reform” the World Trade Organization and address unfair trade practices, including intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, industrial subsidies, trade distortions created by state-owned enterprises and “overcapacity,” Trump said, apparently referring to global steel and/or aluminum overcapacity.
   Juncker during a speech later in the day at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington said the commission agrees with Trump that more needs to be done to reduce global steel overcapacity.
   No printed document of the deal was immediately released, though a joint U.S.-EU statement released following Juncker’s visit mentioned an intent to reduce barriers and increase trade in chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products and services.
   Trump also tweeted Wednesday evening that “work on documents has already started and the process is moving along quickly.”
   During the CSIS speech, Juncker noted the EU was disappointed with the United States’ steel and aluminum tariffs, but expressed an intent to avoid a deepening trade conflict.
   “Trade wars have no winners,” Juncker said. “And tariffs will not protect national security; they will only undermine democracy.”