August 31, 2018 09:39 CET
BERLIN — The European Union will respond in kind if U.S. President Donald Trump reneges on his pledge not to impose car tariffs, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said as trade tensions between Europe and the United States rose again.
Juncker told German broadcaster ZDF on Friday that the EU would not let anyone determine its trade policies. If Washington decided to imposed tariffs on vehicles after all, he said, “then we will also do that.”
Trump rejected an EU offer to eliminate tariffs on cars and said the EU’s trade policies are “almost as bad as China,” Bloomberg News reported on Thursday.
Trump’s comments come just hours after Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told European Parliament lawmakers that the EU would be willing to bring down its car tariffs to zero if the U.S. does the same.
Juncker told German broadcaster ZDF on Friday that the EU would not let anyone determine its trade policies. If Washington violated the deal and imposed auto tariffs, he said, “then we will also do that.”
Juncker said he had negotiated a “ceasefire agreement” on trade with Trump in July and while such deals were often jeopardized, they were generally respected.
Juncker met Trump at the White House on July 25 when the U.S. President agreed to refrain from imposing 25 percent car tariffs while the United States and Europe talked about cutting other trade barriers, but U.S. officials have grown frustrated about the slow pace of progress.
Trump told Bloomberg that eliminating tariffs on U.S. car imports would do little to help the U.S. car industry, as European consumers would still not buy American cars. “Their habits, their consumer habits are to buy their cars, not to buy our cars,” he said.
In his broadside against the EU, Trump also repeated accusations that the bloc is manipulating its currency. “We’re competing against not only, not only the yuan, we’re competing against the euro,” he said. “They keep dropping, dropping, dropping.”
The single currency was little-changed against the U.S. dollar on the latest remarks.
“It’s very regrettable that from the U.S. side there is a tendency to escalate the trade war, especially with China but also with Europe,” European Central Bank policy maker Olli Rehn said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Friday. “The ECB certainly is not manipulating the euro,” said Rehn, who is governor of the Bank of Finland.
Bloomberg contributed to this report
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