US President Donald Trump stands with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel during the playing of National Anthems during arrival at Melsbroek Military Airport in Melsbroek, Belgium on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. FILE PHOTO/AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

EU officials to meet Trump, wielding a $20-billion threat

The European Union is ready to put tariffs on $20 billion of American goods if Trump puts duties on car imports.

Top European Union officials were going into a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday warning they are ready to put tariffs on $20 billion of American goods if he puts duties on car imports.

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom will meet Trump in Washington to try to talk him out of imposing the auto tariffs, which would hurt the industry on both sides of the Atlantic and ratchet up trade tensions significantly.

“The aim of this visit is to cool down the situation and prevent an escalation of the trade conflict,” Malmstrom told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter in an interview.

But she noted that if the U.S. proceeds with the duties, the EU is ready to respond. It will impose new tariffs on a range of U.S. products, including agricultural and high-tech products and machinery.

Trump has repeatedly called the EU – which includes many of the U.S.’s oldest and most committed allies – an unfair trading partner and even labeled it a “foe.” His administration this year imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, drawing retaliation from the EU on a series of U.S. goods. But those tariffs covered about $3 billion in goods and would pale in comparison with possible 25 per cent tariffs on imports of cars, trucks and auto parts.

Related: Canadian government threatens to retaliate if Trump imposes auto tariffs

Related: In TV interview, Trump claims queen called Brexit ‘complex’

Related: US-China kick off ‘biggest trade war in economic history’

It is unclear what Trump’s approach will be in the talks. After tweeting that “Tariffs are the greatest!” he suggested hours later in another post that “both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies!”

The EU’s budget chief, Guenther Oettinger, said the EU was prepared to discuss lowering and restructuring all tariffs for all products.

“We want to avoid a further escalation of the trade dispute (into) a trade war,” Oettinger told German broadcaster Deutschlandfunk. “We have good arguments, clear numbers and we have ideas, too.”

“Whether these will help, nobody knows. But not to try, not to fly over there for the meeting, would have been the wrong path.”

Auto tariffs would be particularly painful for Germany, where the industry is huge and has long been the symbol of postwar wealth.

And it is not just Europeans opposing these tariffs, but American companies as well. The duties would increase the cost of many components that American manufacturers import and use in making cars. Ultimately, that will make cars more expensive for U.S. consumers.

EU has a huge stake in the U.S. industry, where European companies produce almost 3 million cars a year, accounting for over a quarter of production in the United States.

The biggest exporter of U.S.-made cars is a German company — BMW, through its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

German producers and supplies employ more than 118,000 people at about 300 plants and manufacture more than 800,000 vehicles per year in the U.S. — with more than half of the cars being exported, according to figures provided by the German automotive industry.

___

Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

Jari Tanner, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Minor injuries in car, semi accident near Greenwood

Road conditions were likely a factor in the Friday morning crash.

Air advisory, open burn ban issued for Grand Forks

The burn ban will be in effect for two days.

Bucket truck, car collide in Highway 3 accident

The Thursday morning accident near Grand Forks slowed traffic for nearly three hours.

Man spotted with shotgun in East Trail leads to weapons discovery

RCMP recover numerous weapons and stolen items after search on Fifth Ave.

Skier caught in backcountry avalanche near Rossland

‘The man was lucky he had the ‘A-Team’ of ski patrol people able to respond as quickly as they did,’ says Rossland rescue spokesperson

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

B.C. Green leader calls for long-term legislature financial audit

Andrew Weaver says trust in clerk and sergeant at arms is gone

Most Read