U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, during the first official phone talks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Pete Marovich/Pool via Bloomberg)

Trump Calls on EU to Enter Into Negotiations on Trade Barriers

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump called on the European Union to enter into negotiations to reduce trade barriers during a telephone call with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday, as the world’s largest economy is already moving to the brink of a trade war with China.

Trump and Macron discussed North Korea, Syria and Iran as well, according to an emailed statement from the White House Press Office. On the French side, the Elysee put out a statement saying that a call had taken place and that trade was discussed amid other topics.

The EU refuses to engage in formal discussions about a trade agreement in the U.S while its industries are subject to punitive tariffs on steel and aluminum, which Trump introduced earlier this month. It is “ready to talk about trade liberalization with our American friends but only if the U.S. decides an unlimited exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs,” EU Council President Donald Tusk said last month after a meeting with the bloc’s leaders.

Trump Calls on EU to Enter Into Negotiations on Trade Barriers

Since aluminum and steel tariffs kicked in, the door for talks about limited trade liberalization is closed, an EU government official said when asked to comment on Trump’s request. The bloc is also bracing for additional tariffs on car exports to the U.S. later this year, which will further sour the relations with the Trump administration, the official added.

Trade Tensions

Trump is shaking up the world economic order with his zeal for tariffs and embrace of trade conflict. After imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, along with solar panels and washing machines, his administration has announced tariffs on Chinese imports to take effect within weeks, prompting immediate retaliation from Beijing. Tensions have mounted also with the EU as the U.S. puts into question landmark international agreements, from trade to climate change and defense.

U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs remain in place after a tense G-7 meeting early June with counter-tariffs from the EU and Canada due to take effect in a few weeks.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas this week called on the EU to unite and fill the void left by the U.S. drawback from global agreements that have underpinned trans-Atlantic relations for decades. To counter U.S. retrenchment, Maas said the EU must redefine its relationship with the U.S. and take on greater global responsibility, including on foreign policy and defense.

For More on the Trade Dispute:

Why the ‘Made in China 2025’ plan has become a target
See how American businesses are girding for new tariffs
The IMF says the global outlook is worse as tensions rise
Here’s what a full-blown global trade war might look like
Moody’s doesn’t expect tariffs to blow up inflation

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.