Joe Biden would end the “artificial trade war” that Donald Trump launched against the EU if he wins the US election in November, according to the Democratic presidential candidate’s top foreign policy adviser.
Antony Blinken said the US needed to “improve our economic relations” with the EU given the bloc’s importance as a market, and because it was detrimental to fight with US allies.
“We need to bring to an end an artificial trade war that the Trump administration started,” Mr Blinken said at a US Chamber of Commerce event on Tuesday.
US trade relations with Europe have deteriorated under Mr Trump, who has accused Europe of being “almost as bad over the years as China” on trade.
While arguments over digital services tax and a long-running dispute about aircraft subsidies have dominated transatlantic trade ties in recent months, Mr Trump has also repeatedly threatened tariffs on European cars and auto parts, and railed against the US’s trade deficit in goods with Europe.
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Mr Blinken said Mr Trump had created a “self-inflicted wound that has been poisoning relations” with the EU, while imposing an economic cost on the US by pushing higher costs on to American consumers.
“Instead of hurting our own citizens, and fighting with our democratic allies, we ought to be working on a fair approach to international trade and investment,” said Mr Blinken, who served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration.
He said there was “a persistent growing imbalance” in agricultural trade because of EU rules that “prevent us from selling goods where we are very competitive”. But he added he recognised the EU view that when including services — where the US has had a trade surplus with EU — the relationship was more balanced.
His comments on Europe mirror a broader perspective from Mr Biden who has pledged to repair relations with allies that have suffered during the four years of the Trump administration. In addition to starting a trade war with Europe, Mr Trump has repeatedly taken digs at US allies in Nato.
As a result of a World Trade Organization ruling last year, the US put tariffs of 25 per cent on $7.5bn worth of European imports as retaliation for Europe’s state support of Airbus. Europe is still waiting for the counterpart ruling from the WTO, which will determine the level of tariffs it can levy on US imports to retaliate for its state support of Boeing.
Earlier this summer, the US and EU struck a more positive note by agreeing to a narrow accord under which the EU would eliminate tariffs on US lobsters in exchange for tariff relief on some EU products, such as glassware and disposable lighters. But the two sides have so far failed to agree on a more substantial trade deal.
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