The European Union: Is it a commercial enemy of the United States or only Trump’s?

Donald Trump's statements about a supposed commercial enmity between the United States and Europe were not taken seriously by European leaders

The European Union: Is it a commercial enemy of the United States or only Trump’s?

On Sunday, July 15, after the NATO summit in Brussels and a visit to the United Kingdom, US President Donald Trump said in an interview with the CBS channel that the European Union is an "enemy" for the United States. "We have many enemies, I believe that the European Union is an enemy, because of what it does to us in trade," the president said during the interview. Then he said that "Russia is an enemy (of the US) in certain aspects, China is economically, but that does not mean they are bad, it means they are competitive."

Leer en español: La Unión Europea: ¿Enemiga comercial de Estados Unidos o sólo de Trump?

These claims are due to the fact that last year the EU had a trade surplus of 151,000 million dollars with the United States, today there is a dispute over import tariffs between the two powers. For example, the EU has raised taxes on certain American products such as jeans, motorcycles, and some alcoholic beverages.

However, this tax increase responds to Trump's decision in June to end the exemption in tariffs on imports of European products such as aluminum and steel. This measure was also extended for steel and aluminum from Mexico and Canada.

Another of the reasons that the US president had to affirm that the EU is an enemy is that, according to Trump, he "loves those countries (those of the EU)" and "respects the leaders of those countries", but he assures that "in a commercial sense, they have really taken advantage of us, and many of those countries are in NATO and they were not paying their share". This affirmation, according to the president, refers to the investment in defense that is being done is insufficient to comply with the agreement reached during the 2014 summit in Wales where it was established that each of the 29 NATO member countries would devote in a decade in 2% of its GDP to defense matters, namely armed forces.

Also read: This is how Peña Nieto celebrated the new trade agreement between Mexico and the European Union

Additionally, Trump reaffirmed his criticism of Germany for having agreed with Russia the construction of a gas pipeline in the Baltic Sea for the purpose of transporting fuel from Russia to Germany. In the words of president: "Germany made an oil pipeline agreement with Russia where they will be paying Russia billions and billions of dollars a year for energy, and I say that this is not good, that's not fair," to which German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded by stating that Germany was able to establish "independent policies" as well as to make "independent decisions".

A disdainful response

After Trump described the EU as an enemy of the US, several members of the European community spoke about it:

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, said through Twitter that "the US and the EU are the best friends, whoever says that we are enemies is spreading false news." Tusk also affirmed that "it is a common duty for Europe and China, but also for the United States and Russia, not to destroy this world order, but to improve it, and not to start commercial wars that so often resulted in open conflicts in our history."

Steffen Seibert, spokesman for the German Executive, when questioned about it during a press conference, replied: "It is not our opinion (...) We are not enemies" and added that despite commercial competition, the European Union and The United States is united by "common values".

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Policy, said: "We have very clear who our friends are, the United States, for sure, I have said many times that a change of administration does not change the friendship between countries and peoples."

LatinAmerican Post | Sofía Carreño
Translated from “La Unión Europea: ¿Enemiga comercial de Estados Unidos o sólo de Trump?”

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