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21 Sep, 2018 11:04

Trump is obsessed with auto trade, French ambassador to the US says

Trump is obsessed with auto trade, French ambassador to the US says

The White House may halt lengthy trade talks with the European Union and scrap any possible deal to issue crippling tariffs against products imported from members of the bloc, warns the French Ambassador to the US Gerard Araud.

US President Donald Trump may renew his threats to introduce duties on the vehicles produced in Europe in the near future, according to the ambassador. Moreover, Trump might impose import tariffs just because he gets fed up with the prolonged negotiations.

“The cars will be certainly a sort of test case in the coming weeks and months on this European-American relationship — if the Americans go back to this idea of tariffs on cars or not,” Araud said during a briefing at his official residence in Washington.

According to the French president’s right-hand man, any substantive decision “will take months to negotiate, and we are not sure that the president — your president — has the patience to wait for it.”

“So the coming months will be critical to whether we have a virtuous negotiation starting between the US and Europe and we forget the threats the tariffs and the trade war, or whether we go back to a trade war with the Europeans,” Araud said.

The partners have been at loggerheads over mutual exports and imports after Washington imposed 25 and 10 percent tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the US in an attempt to eliminate a significant trade imbalance. Brussels retaliated with taxing the US goods of worth $3.3 billion.

Mutual sales of vehicles have become a hot issue for the US president, who has repeatedly slammed the EU car producers for unfair behavior, urging them to build plants on US territory.

“There is an obsession by the president on trade about cars,” the French ambassador stressed. “Every time he's talking about trade with the Europeans, he's talking about BMW or Mercedes.”

Under the current trade deal, the US levies a 25 percent tariff on light trucks and pickups and 2.5 percent on smaller vehicles from Europe, while Brussels applies a 10 percent tariff to all passenger cars imported from the US.

In August, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom proposed bringing the car tariffs to zero. Trump rejected the offer, saying the proposal is a one-sided deal favoring Europe.

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