U.S. and EU Outline Initiatives to Ease Trade Hostilities

President Donald Trump announced a number of trade initiatives with the European Union, including plans to “resolve” retaliatory tariffs, after he said that the Europeans agreed to work toward lower tariffs and other trade barriers, buying billions of dollars of American soybeans and natural gas in the process, Washington Post writes.

The surprise announcement deescalates a trade battle that began with Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum exports and threatened to escalate to automobiles.

“We’re starting the negotiation right now, but we know very much where it’s going,” Trump said, together with European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker at the White House Rose Garden. “I had the intention to make a deal today, and we have made a deal today,” Juncker added.

The two sides had agreed to hold off on further tariffs, and work toward dropping the existing ones on steel and aluminum, while they tried to work out a deal to eliminate tariffs, non-tariff barriers and subsidies on industrial goods, excluding autos, the Post adds.

While Washington and Brussels pursue those aims, the EU will import more U.S. soybeans and liquefied natural gas, or LNG, The New York Times adds.

“We are ready to invest in infrastructure, new terminals, which could welcome imports of LNG from the United States and elsewhere, but mainly from the United States, if the conditions were right and price is competitive,” Juncker noted.

According to White House officials, the meeting is a major breakthrough and an acknowledgment that Trump’s hardball tactics were paying dividends.

However, the agreement drew cautious praise from a range of Republicans and some Democrats. AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said that he “is encouraged by this progress with our European allies and hopes to see more.”

Chad Bown, an economist who worked in the White House during the Obama administration, said the language from both sides at the Rose Garden ceremony signaled a willingness to work together and remove trade barriers, a sharp departure from the rhetoric Trump has used in recent weeks threatening punitive measures against U.S. allies, including members of the EU, the Times writes.

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