Trump, EU leaders set for showdown talks on trade

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A few weeks after labeling the European Union a ‘foe’ of the United States, President Donald Trump will sit down with leaders of that economic community on Wednesday at the White House, amid threats of an escalation of tariffs in a trade dispute that some fear could swell into a full-blown trade war.

“What the European Union is doing to us is incredible – how bad,” the President said in a speech on Tuesday in Kansas City, where he doubled down on his use of tough trade threats against Europe, Canada, China and Mexico, trying to use the possibility of more tariffs as leverage to draw concessions on American exports.

“They sound nice but they’re rough. They’re all coming in to see me,” Mr. Trump told a convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, where the audience embraced his talk on trade with strong applause.

“I said, “You have to change.” They didn’t want to change,” the President said of Europe. “I said, ‘Okay. Good. We’re going to tariff your cars.'”

“They’re a big abuser,” the President said of the EU, as the President defended his tariffs, which have drawn retaliation around the world, and caused economic heartburn in the U.S. on a number of levels.

The European Union has already retaliated against President Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, targeting a series of agricultural products in the U.S., bourbon, motorcycles and more.

Initial reports from Europe indicated that Jean-Claude Juncker would not arrive with trade deal offers for President Trump, but would instead be trying to figure out what Mr. Trump might agree to in a trade deal.

“I campaigned on that issue,” the President told a convention of the VFW in Kansas City as he defended his moves on trade. “I understand that issue better than anybody.”

But a number of lawmakers in the Congress – especially Republicans – see it much differently, as they blasted the Trump Administration announcement on Tuesday that it would funnel $12 million in trade aid to America’s farmers, to make up for economic losses incurred in Mr. Trump’s trade fights.

“Given the low prices farmers have been facing, the tariff situation is making things worse for producers as we speak,” said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“We need a longer-term strategy to ensure farmers are able to sell their goods around the globe,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA).




The President “now wants to give a taxpayer bailout to farmers who were hurt by his tariffs, i.e., his tax increase on Americans,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), as GOP discontent simmered in the halls of Congress on the tariff issue.

“Time and time again I’ve heard from farmers that they want trade, not aid,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who told some reporters off the Senate floor that the $12 billion plan for farmers reeked of a “Soviet-type economy.”