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Europe 's turn now TIME ONLINE

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Under the sound of a military band, President Trump led his guest, Liu He, the Chinese Vice Premier, into the East Room of the White House. There, in front of gold brocade curtains and under crystal chandeliers, Trump's cabinet members and the tops of America's finance and business had gathered to witness the signing of the trade agreement between the two nations. The contract, which is only 86 pages, is less extensive than a conventional lease for an office in the US capital.

Critics point out that important problems such as Beijing's state subsidies do not even appear in the contract. They are to be negotiated in a new round. For the so-called Phase 2 however, there is no schedule yet. But maybe that would be exactly that Europe Trade politicians are quite right, because they are now afraid of being targeted by the US president. The relationship between the United States and Europe is "very unbalanced," as Trump's trade representative Robert Lighthizer said in an interview recently
with the Fox News TV station. There are many barriers to trade
and problems with Europe, that concerns the President.

The U.S. consumers and companies paid a high price for Trump's China deal. On products China On average, 19 percent tariffs apply today, which is six times as high as before the trade dispute that began with the introduction of punitive tariffs on washing machines and solar modules in January 2018. But what counts for Trump is that the Chinese have promised, among other things, to purchase additional agricultural products from the United States for around $ 40 billion over the next two years. In this way, Trump can promise the farmers who were hardest hit by the trade dispute in good time for the election year.

Juncker was still able to prevent new car tariffs

And Trump can boast of having successfully concluded the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. The USMCA agreement is intended to replace the North American free trade area NAFTA. Critics see the Trump's revised edition as little fundamental change from the NAFTA version that Bill Clinton once signed in 1993. But Trump can claim to have kept one of his most important election promises.

So while a visibly relaxed Trump praised the contract with the Chinese in the East Room, Phil Hogan, the EU's trade commissioner, was unlikely to be celebrating. He had traveled to Washington to revive the frosty relationship between the two allied economic powers. The Irishman has a difficult job. For Donald TrumpWho sees evidence of unfair competition in the fact that the US imports more goods from a country than US companies sell there could be reason enough to act harder against Europe in the election year. For Hogan, it should also be of little help that the trade deficit is included
the EU is expected to grow to as much as $ 180 billion this year. A new record.

Once before, in spring 2018, a conflict between the EU and the United States seemed inevitable. The United States relied on national security interests to introduce higher tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe as well. Brussels responded promptly and, in return, imposed tariffs on American business icons such as motorcycle manufacturers Harley-Davidson and Levi Strauss Jeans. As a result, the US President, who had repeatedly complained that in his view US manufacturers sold too few cars in Europe, threatened high tariffs on European cars and auto parts. Only a personal meeting with the then EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, who was apparently able to get the President off course with a kiss on the cheek, prevented a trade dispute between the two economic powers.

This ceasefire is fragile. In November Trump once again decided against the car duties, which are particularly dangerous for Germany. But at that point, negotiations with the Chinese had hit rock bottom. Now the president has a free hand again. And he has proven again that he is not afraid to use tariffs against allies. After the World Trade Organization decided in the fall that the EU had illegally supported the aircraft manufacturer Airbus with subsidies, Washington promptly imposed punitive tariffs of 10 percent on European aircraft and 25 percent on a long list of products such as wine, whiskey and cheese , The EU has sued US support for rival Boeing, but the WTO decision is still pending.

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