Commentary

U.S. And EU Agree To Agree To Keep Talking About A Trade Agreement

There appears to be at least a respite in the spate of escalating trade wars as the United States and the European Union announced a truce yesterday, with President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker telling the assembled press in the White House Rose Garden they would basically do their best to work things out.

“We agreed today, first of all, to work together towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods,” Trump said in a “surprise announcement” with Juncker by his side, Andrew Buncombe reports for the Independent. “We will also work to reduce barriers and increase trade in services, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products, as well as soybeans.”

Trump and Juncker “said they had agreed to hold off on proposed car tariffs, and [would] work to resolve their dispute on steel and aluminum tariffs, while pursuing a bilateral trade deal,” writ e Damian Paletta and Jeanne Whalen for the Washington Post.

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“The package of measures announced by Messrs. Trump and Juncker would have the EU buying more liquefied natural gas and soybeans from the Unites States, and the two sides would begin a 'dialogue to reduce differences on regulatory standards between the two economies,' Mr. Trump said. The two sides also suggested they would hold off on further tariffs — a nod to Mr. Trump’s threats to apply tariffs on imported cars,” report Valentina Pop, Vivian Salama and Bob Davis for the Wall Street Journal.

“While the two sides said the deal was contingent on negotiating in good faith, there was no schedule set to complete the talks, meaning that what amounted to a temporary truce could turn into a permanent one — or fall apart if one side accuses the other of lagging behind,” Pop, Salama and Davis continue. 

“While their remarks represent a breakthrough after weeks of stalemate, they were short of detail and given Trump’s mercurial record, the detente could easily come undone as negotiations begin in earnest,” write David Smith and Dominic Rushe for the Guardian.

“Experts urged caution. Bart Oosterveld, director of the global business and economics program at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, said: “The avoidance of a disaster is not a success. What I think we saw is the resumption of some basic dialogue…,” they continue. 

Meanwhile, “all of Detroit’s Big 3 automakers issued downward revisions on Wednesday in their financial forecasts for the year, with each highlighting rising commodities costs that stem in part from the steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the Trump administration. The adjustments, made as the companies announced their second-quarter earnings, sent their shares down sharply,” writes Neal E. Boudette for the New York Times.

“Automakers warned the Trump administration in recent weeks that tariffs could have a negative effect on their industry. In a filing to the Commerce Department in June, [General Motors] said that tariffs could lead to “less investment, fewer jobs and lower wages” and that the cars hit hardest would probably be those aimed at consumers who could least afford an increase,” Boudette adds.

The assembled press in the Rose Garden yesterday was absent one member — CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins, who was banned from the event after shouting out some questions as the “pool” TV reporter at an earlier photo op.

“As is customary, Collins lobbed a few questions at the president. She asked about Vladimir Putin and Michael Cohen. Trump did not answer the questions,” reports CNN’s Brian Stelter. She was quickly told by Trump communications officials that she was being “dis-invited” from the forthcoming Rose Garden event. 

“They said that the questions I asked were inappropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting,” Collins said. “A video clip of the exchange shows that Collins was speaking the same way journalists in the press pool usually speak,” Stelter reports.

The White House Correspondents’ Association condemned the action, as did many media outlets, including Fox News.

Speaking of questions, you might be wondering what yesterday’s truce with the EU really means, in plain English, and what it bodes for the future.

“From better, and really better than ever we’ve, we've never done like we’re doing, I can say from the standpoint of the United States, we’ve never done this well but we’re going to do a lot better after we do this deal and other deals,” quoth the President.

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