EU trade delegation in Washington with formal trade deal on the horizon

EU trade delegation in Washington with formal trade deal on the horizon

EU trade officials will meet with their American counterparts in Washington today, with a likely focus on auto imports. President

german auto manufacturing conference

Photo: Flickr/Automotive Rhythms

EU trade officials will meet with their American counterparts in Washington today, with a likely focus on auto imports.

President Donald Trump has previously threatened to slap a 20% tariff on car imports from Europe. However, after notifying Congress that he intends to pursue formal trade negotiations with the EU, he has promised to shelve that threat for the duration of the talks. Still, the president’s ire over the existing tariff imbalance—2.5% from the US on imports from Europe versus 10% on US exports—will likely drive the agenda.

The auto issue is of key importance to major EU countries. Germany, which hosts its annual conference of automakers today, would be particularly hit, with one business group estimating an economic cost of nearly $7 billion annually if Mr Trump acted on his threat.

Today’s meeting is only preliminary and features lower-level officials, but should begin to sketch out the agenda for subsequent meetings of top-level ministers. Expect an agenda focusing on specific fixes rather than a full-on trade deal. On autos, some middle ground will have to be found between Europe’s desire to maintain exports and President Trump’s protectionist aims.

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