US President Donald Trump, after his meeting with European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker, in the White House on July 25th, announced that the imposing of new tariffs against the European Union will be suspended, thus holding off the trade war.
The EC president traveled to the US to attempt to head off potential tariffs on US imports of cars and car parts.
The official EU statement lists four key points on which it agreed with the US on July 25th:
“First of all, to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.”
“Secondly, we agreed today to strengthen our strategic cooperation with respect to energy. The European Union wants to import more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States to diversify its energy supply.”
“Thirdly, we agreed today to launch a close dialogue on standards in order to ease trade, reduce bureaucratic obstacles, and slash costs.”
“Fourthly, we agreed today to join forces to protect American and European companies better from unfair global trade practices.”
The leaders, during the press conference announced that they will work towards eliminating tariffs on all non-auto industrial goods, increase cooperation on energy purchases and that they work reforming the World Trade Organization.
Trump’s words were, as Juncker stood next to him: “This will open markets for farmers and workers, increase investment, and lead to greater prosperity in both the United States and the European Union. If we team up, we can make our planet a better, more secure and more prosperous place.”
In exchange, Politico reported, Juncker said, the EU would increase its purchases of US soybeans and build more terminals to import liquified natural gas (LNG) from the US. He had the following to say: “When I was invited by the president to the White House I had one intention. I had the intention to make a deal today. And we made a deal today. This was a good, constructive meeting.” Regarding LNG imports, Trump had the following to say during the press conference: “We agreed to a strengthened and strengthening of our strategic cooperation with respect to energy. The European Union wants to import more liquefied natural gas, LNG, from the United States and they’re going to be a very very big buyer. We’re going to make it much easier for them, but they’re going to be a massive buyer of LNG.”
European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, who joined Juncker in the White House, compared détente in the economic relationship between the US and EU to “turning a page” in the bilateral relationship.
The economic relationship had gotten increasingly tense in recent months after the announcement of tariffs on nearly all U.S. imports of steel and aluminum, including those from the EU. Brussels’ response were retaliatory tariffs on approximately $3.3 billion in US goods.
Marietje Schaake, a liberal Dutch member of the European Parliament viewed Juncker’s visit as a failure. Politico reports that the EC President’s inability to secure a commitment from Trump to remove the “unjust” tariffs on steel and aluminum should be viewed as a failure. She had the following to say on Twitter: “EU has put de-escalation and mutual benefit of good trade relation first, always, but today’s concession could set dangerous precedent.”
The meeting and agreements come after on the night of July 25th the first pipes for the Nord Stream 2 were placed in German Lubmin in the Bay of Greifswald, as reported by DW.
On July 19th, US Congress received a draft bill for the imposing of sanctions against Nord Stream 2 for consideration.
Donald Trump also condemned Nord Stream 2 as a “grave mistake” during the press conference after his meeting with President Putin in Helsinki on July 16th. Even earlier than that, during the July 11th NATO summit, Trump also pressed Germany for the project, criticizing it.
It is expected that the 1200 km gas pipeline will be laid through the Baltic Sea, and will connect Russia and Germany passing Ukraine, Poland, and Baltic countries. However, Ukraine is strongly against the construction, calling it politically motivated. Furthermore, some EU countries, namely Poland and Lithuania are also against Nord Stream 2. Despite that, during the press conference after the Trump-Putin meeting of July 16th, the Russian president announced that Russia was ready to preserve the gas transit through Ukraine.
After the announcement that the US and EU would agree to facilitate more shipments of US natural gas to the continent, LNG stocks and shares of US natural gas produces went up. Despite it is still unclear how much the July 25th meeting changed existing plans for US-EU energy trade.
“We agreed to a strengthened and strengthening of our strategic cooperation with respect to energy,” Trump said in a press conference with Juncker. “The European Union wants to import more liquefied natural gas, LNG, from the United States and they’re going to be a very very big buyer. We’re going to make it much easier for them, but they’re going to be a massive buyer of LNG.”