Davos, 22 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The United States will impose painful tariffs on imports from the European Union unless the bloc agrees to a trade deal soon, President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday.
“They have to move relatively quickly,” Trump told a press conference before departing the World Economic Forum summit in the Swiss town of Davos.
Top EU official Ursula von der Leyen reacted calmly to the threat, telling dpa that that US and EU officials would sit down very soon to work out a deal within weeks. She did not specify how comprehensive or narrow such an agreement would be.
“No one benefits if we start a months-long trade dispute, neither the American nor the European side,” the European Commission president said.
“That’s why the smart thing to do is to negotiate, discuss facts, conclude the negotiations and sign,” she added.
Trump complained that EU countries have been exporting significantly more into the US than the other way around.
He claimed that he had restrained himself so far because he was busy with concluding the recent trade deal with China first.
“They are actually more difficult than China,” Trump said about the EU.
“Look, if we don’t get something, we’ll have to take action, and the action will be very high tariffs on cars and other things that come into our country,” Trump said in a separate interview with US broadcaster CNBC.
The president added, however, that he believes that the EU will agree to a deal in the end.
“They’re gonna make a deal because they have to,” he said.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in Davos that tariffs have served Washington well in reaching its goals.
“There’s no question that the president’s tariffs have been a big incentive in all these trade agreements,” he said during a panel debate, referring to imposed or threatened measures that were used in reaching recent deals with China, Mexico and Canada.
The US and the EU are major trading partners. They exchanged nearly 1.3 trillion dollars’ worth of goods and services in 2018.
Reaching a trade agreement is expected to be difficult because Brussels wants to exclude its farming sector from such a deal, while Washington seeks to protect its market for public tenders.
The Trump administration already threatened the EU with 25-per-cent tariffs on cars last year, without imposing them. The EU has made clear that it would retaliate in such a case.
Trump was forced to take a 2-hour ride by car on a narrow mountain roads for his return from to Zurich airport. He had planned to take a helicopter, but the 30-minute flight was not possible because of foggy weather.