President Donald Trump reached an agreement Wednesday with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker aimed at averting a transatlantic trade war, easing tensions stoked by Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on car imports.
The two sides agreed to expand European imports of U.S. liquified natural gas and soybeans and lower industrial tariffs on both sides, Trump said. The U.S. and European Union will “hold off on other tariffs” while negotiations proceed, Juncker said.
“We had a big day, very big,” Trump said at a joint statement with Juncker at the White House Wednesday. He hailed “a new phase” of trade relations.
The two leaders also said they would work toward “zero” tariffs on industrial goods, according to Trump. He added that they would try to “resolve” steel and aluminum tariffs he imposed earlier this year and retaliatory duties the EU levied in response.
Trump and Juncker took no questions after their brief remarks in the Rose Garden, an impromptu appearance scheduled after less than two hours of talks.
Juncker came to Washington for a last-ditch bid to avoid U.S. tariffs on cars. He told reporters he entered Wednesday’s meeting with the intention of reaching an agreement with Trump.
Trump warned at a cabinet meeting last week that he would move forward with 25 percent auto tariffs if the meeting with Juncker didn’t go well.
Trump could impose car tariffs on national security grounds once Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross completes a required investigation.
Auto tariffs at the level Trump has threatened would add about 10,000 euros ($11,700) to the sticker price of a European-built car sold in the U.S., according a European Commission assessment obtained by Bloomberg News last month. That would cut U.S. imports of European cars and car parts in half, the commission forecast.
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