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European Commission President Juncker arrives in Washington for trade talks with Trump


European Commission President Juncker arrives in Washington for trade talks with Trump

Photo: Getty Images

EU Chief Jean-Claude Juncker will visit the White House today in a bid to soothe deteriorating trade relations with the US.

Appeals from European leaders failed to stop President Trump from imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium imports in March. Last month, the EU responded with retaliatory tariffs on a range of “quintessentially American” goods, from blue jeans to whisky.

With the European auto industry now in Washington’s crosshairs for “domestic national security” reasons, many are hoping Mr Juncker can intervene before one of the bloc’s largest industries is hit.

However, Juncker comes to the White House with low expectations. At the recent G7 summit, he refrained from working with other EU leaders to pressure Trump into abandoning his most aggressive trade policies, suggesting such an effort was “futile”. Indeed, the European Commission president heads to Washington without a specific trade offer, instead coming with the objective of generally “de-dramatising” tensions.

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Mr Juncker’s refusal to adopt Trump’s transactional approach and his vague expectations towards trade negotiations will likely result in a failure to make any substantive progress—indeed, today’s visit could increase tension. This is emblematic of the EU’s continued unwillingness to negotiate appealing deals compatible with the hardliner, protectionist trade policy of the Trump Administration.

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