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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Okanagan rinks have mixed results as BC Seniors Curling finals begin

A total of 15 rinks are competing in Vernon for right to go to nationals in Manitoba

‘The NDP of the ’90s is back’: Kelowna-Lake Country MLA voices concerns over 2020 budget

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick said the new budget is “classic NDP tax-and-spend”

Canadian Air Force joins Okanagan rescue of missing Kelowna snowmobiler

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

City of Kelowna signs UNHCR statement of solidarity with refugees

The #WithRefugees campaign invites cities working to promote inclusion and support refugees

Aquilini Group addresses heating complaints at SOPA Square in Kelowna

Some store owners have been without heat at development for up to a month

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

Trees Cannabis director fined $1.5M for selling marijuana

Fine follows provincial crackdown on popular dispensary

World Cup skier from Okanagan dies suddenly at 19

Kuroda, who made his World Cup debut earlier this year, passed away suddenly Monday night.

Coastal GasLink pipeline investor committed to closing deal despite protests

Developer TC Energy Corp. — formerly TransCanada Corp. — is to remain the operator of the $6.6-billion pipeline

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Town of Osoyoos voices support for proposed casino

Osoyoos council voted to submit a letter of support for a proposed casino on OIB land

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Most Read