Only a week after finalizing a partial trade deal with China and watching a revised North American trade pact garner bipartisan support as it passed through the Senate, President Donald Trump set his sights on the European Union as the next frontier for commerce renegotiation – and possible tariff implementation.
In a wide-ranging interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, Trump on Wednesday said the European Union has been “very, very tough to deal with” in terms of trade. Reflecting on his Tuesday meeting with new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Trump said he hopes to soon begin a formal renegotiation of America’s trade relationship with Europe.
“I said, ‘Look, if we don’t get something, I’m going to have to take action. And the action will be very high tariffs on their cars and other things that come into our country,'” Trump said. “They’re going to make a deal, because they have to. They have to. They have no choice.”
Trump’s administration has for months teased tariffs on European automotives and other exports – threats that have ramped up as a handful of European countries consider implementing a digital tax that would impact U.S. businesses operating abroad. Following a series of public threats from – and private discussions with – the White House, France announced plans to delay tax implementation, buying more time to work out the policy’s details.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, told The Wall Street Journal this week that the U.K. and Italy will “find themselves faced with President Trump’s tariffs” if they go through with implementation.
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