European Union threatens USA with $20 billion tit-for-tat tariffs

Commissioner Oettinger holds a news conference in Brussels

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker led a delegation to pay Donald Trump a visit in Washington, following a series of belligerent moves by the US President.

Trump is facing increasing criticism as consumers, farmers and businesses are taking a hit from the retaliation to the raft of United States tariffs on steel, aluminium, and tens of billions of dollars in products from China that he has imposed in recent weeks.

According to a senior European official, the first would be for the EU, US, Japan, South Korea and other nations that are significant manufacturers of cars and parts for them to negotiate a "plurilateral" deal aimed at reducing tariffs on these products to zero.

"We hope that this won't happen and that we can reach a solution".

In a joint press conference held at the White House after the meeting, Trump said the two had a "very big day" that will launch a phase of a "close friendship" between the European Union and US.

A formal proposal would only come after the U.S. Commerce Department completed its investigation into whether vehicle imports threaten national security.

The deadline for the report is February 2019, but it's now expected to be released in late August or early September this year.

He later told reporters that was a "major concession" on Trump's part and that he expected the US president to follow through on it.

Some critics of Trump said the improved sentiment and prospective benefits emerging from his meeting tonight was no different to that proposed in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an arrangement scrapped by the President previous year.

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Republican Senator Ben Sasse, a frequent Trump critic, said the president's trade policies recalled a past of perilous economic instability.

Reuters reported that Guenther Oettinger said lifting the latest penalties on European Union exports would be a precondition for restructuring further trade deals.

In an interview on CNBC, Mnuchin said the United States was focused on its European partners, although there continued to be quiet conversations with China over trade. Each of those countries has responded with retaliatory tariffs against the U.S.

This will involve increasing U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas and soybeans to Europe, which Trump claimed was a "big deal". That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade!

Malmstrom indicated she was not expecting a breakthrough.

The Republican president has long complained that the WTO has been unfair to the United States, despite the fact the U.S. has won most of the disputes against China and others.

"Basically, I'm an optimistic person, but heading in to this I'm moderately optimistic". "It was completely impossible".

"One could try for a TTIP light", he said.

Mnuchin told CNBC that USA and European officials had an agreement in principal and planned to move forward to "turn it into a real agreement", but gave few details.

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