U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened to impose high tariffs on imports of cars from the European Union if the bloc doesn’t agree to a trade deal.
Trump has previously made threats to place duties on European automobile imports, with the intent of receiving better terms in the U.S.-Europe trade relationship. Trump has delayed imposing the tariffs a number of times.
“I met with the new head of the European Commission, who’s terrific. And I had a great talk. But I said, ‘look, if we don’t get something, I’m going to have to take action’ and the action will be very high tariffs on their cars and on other things that come into our country,” Trump told CNBC’s Joe Kernen in an interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Former German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen succeeded Jean-Claude Juncker at the end of 2019 as the EU’s top official, becoming the first woman to hold the post.
The European Union is as strong economically as the United States, and will respond to any additional U.S. tariffs “in the same dimension,” Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Emily Haber, said at an event in Washington.
French Ambassador Philippe Etienne told the same event that the EU hoped to negotiate a settlement with Washington, warning that tit-for-tat tariffs would hurt both economies. “It is not in our interest to have an escalation of tariffs,” he said.
Mike Manley, the head of European car industry lobby group ACEA, said businesses need certainty and hoped that a clash with Trump could be avoided.