News & Politics

U.S.-EU Announce a Truce in Trade War

President Donald Trump and European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker speak in the Rose Garden of the White House, Wednesday, July 25, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In a joint Rose Garden appearance with EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Trump announced significant trade concessions that would boost U.S. exports in several sectors.

Fox News:

After talks at the White House with E.U. officials, Trump announced in a joint Rose Garden appearance that the delegation agreed to increase imports of soybeans and liquefied natural gas. Both sides agreed to work toward the goal of “zero” tariffs and subsidies on non-auto industrial goods and to “resolve” recent tariffs that both sides have imposed.

“This was a very big day for free and fair trade,” Trump said.

Trump said they also are looking to slash regulations that limit access to each other’s markets and to reform the World Trade Organization and limit unfair market practices.

This is fantastic news — if it all plays out the way these vague terms were negotiated. As always, the devil is in the details and it is unclear at this point how much of this “deal” is PR and how much is substantive.

At the very least, the show of comity between the EU and U.S. governments should calm markets and perhaps reassure other sectors of the economy that are under the gun as a result of more tariffs planned by the administration.

Wall Street Journal:

“This was a very big day for free and fair trade,” Mr. Trump said. He said the U.S. and EU would “resolve” the steel and aluminum tariffs he imposed earlier this year and the retaliatory tariffs the EU imposed in response.

He said the EU had agreed “almost immediately” begin buying more U.S. soybeans and that the European bloc had agreed to increase LNG exports from the U.S. The EU will be a “massive buyer” of LNG, Mr. Trump said.

“I had the intention to make a deal today,” said Mr. Juncker. “And we made a deal today. “

Mr. Juncker said the EU and U.S. would strengthen cooperation on energy and look to import more soybeans, as well as other steps. Addressing sanctions, he said there is an understanding that there will there will be no further tariffs amid these negotiations and that the two sides will “reassess existing tariffs on steel and aluminum.”

Mr. Trump also said the U.S. and EU would work “closely together” to reform the World Trade Organization and would launch an “executive working group” to implement their joint agenda.

The two sides agreed to agree in the near future on the tariff question. Again, this is atmospherics and there doesn’t appear to be anything beyond an “executive working group” to resolve the issues.

In essence, very little has changed. The EU will buy more soybeans and natural gas while Trump will hold off on imposing more ruinous tariffs, including a whopping 25% duty on $300 billion in foreign auto sales.

Trump is spinning the deal as a major victory. It certainly could be significant if it works out. But Trump’s overall theory that trade wars are easy to win has yet to be proved.