Trump-Created European Trade Crisis Averted by Fake Deal

Last night, the Trump administration announced with maximum fanfare that the trade war with the European Union was over. “This was a big day for free and fair trade!,” tweeted an excited President Trump. For all the hype and surprisingly credulous press the announcement attracted, it amounts to little more than a face-saving truce. If you’re looking for any details as to how this will work, too bad, they don’t exist.

The trade “deal” follows the script of the ballyhooed North Korean nuclear “deal” from last month. The cycle begins with bellicose Trumpian threats designed to increase American leverage. This leads to negotiations, which produce an impossibly ambitious and thoroughly vague “solution” that allows Trump to boast that he has averted a crisis of his own making.

In North Korea’s case, the “agreement” involves a nonverifiable promise to denuclearize the Korean peninsula at some future date. The trade “deal” is a promise to eliminate tariffs between the United States and the European Union. In theory, it would be possible to eliminate all tariffs between the E.U. and the U.S., but the process would take many years to complete — the European Union has 28 member states, all of which have internal political dynamics and constituent business interests to navigate.

In the meantime, the practical meaning of Trump’s deal is that both sides will halt the cycle of retaliatory tariffs. Despite Trump’s belief that his methods had produced valuable leverage for his own position, the spat had imposed acute pain on his own constituents — especially farmers, who have suffered dire costs from retaliatory tariffs. The president had taken to pleading with his supporters to stop complaining and let him sue for peace:

He was begging his allies to stop complaining about the tariffs. Like a dog!

Trump’s campaign adviser Stephen Moore told the Washington Post yesterday, “The one thing I do know about Trump is that he’s not going to back down.” Characteristically, the one thing Moore knows turned out to be completely false.

But it is easy to see how Trump plans to turn this shambolic retreat into another famous victory. Begin with the assumption that the European Union has been screwing the Great Companies of the United States with one-sided and very, very unfair tariffs for decades. (This is not true.) Then proceed to the assumption that Trump has produced a deal to eliminate all these tariffs. (Completely unrealistic.) By stacking the two fantasies atop each other, you arrive at a reality in which Trump has made a Great Deal to make Americans win again.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/07/trump-created-european-trade-crisis-averted-by-fake-deal.html

“I think the European Union is a foe,” Trump says ahead of Putin meeting in Helsinki

Coming off a contentious NATO summit and a trip to the U.K. in which he seemed to undercut the government of America’s closest ally, President Trump took aim at another Western institution just days before his high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor in Scotland on Saturday, President Trump named the European Union — comprising some of America’s oldest allies — when asked to identify his “biggest foe globally right now.”

“Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe. Russia is foe in certain respects. China is a foe economically, certainly they are a foe. But that doesn’t mean they are bad. It doesn’t mean anything. It means that they are competitive,” Mr. Trump said at his golf club in Turnberry, Scotland.

“I respect the leaders of those countries. But, in a trade sense, they’ve really taken advantage of us and many of those countries are in NATO and they weren’t paying their bills,” he added.

On Sunday, British Prime Minister Theresa May told the BBC that Mr. Trump had encouraged her to “sue the EU” rather than negotiate over the U.K.’s departure from the bloc. May’s conservative government is deeply split over her handling of Brexit, and her hold on power was further weakened by Mr. Trump’s comments to a British tabloid that her approach had likely “killed” any chance of a new trade deal with the U.S. once Brexit is complete. (Mr. Trump tried to walk back his criticism in a joint press conference on Friday.)

At the summit of NATO allies in Brussels last week, Mr. Trump took a hard line toward member nations for failing to meet targeted defense spending goals. He claimed his tough stance had paid off in getting allies to spend more on defense, telling reporters on Thursday that members had “upped their commitments and I am very happy.”

The president kicked off the NATO summit by blasting Germany as “totally controlled” and “captive by Russia” over a natural gas pipeline project, known as the Nord Stream 2. The U.S. fears the deal could give Moscow greater leverage over Western Europe. In Saturday’s interview, the president reiterated the criticisms he made in Brussels.

“Germany made a pipeline deal with Russia. Where they’re going to be paying Russia billions and billions of dollars a year for energy, and I say that’s not good, that’s not fair. You’re supposed to be fighting for someone and then that someone gives billions of dollars to the one you’re, you know, guarding against. I think it’s ridiculous, so I let that be known also this time,” Mr. Trump told Glor. “I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of anger at the fact that Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars. There’s a lot of anger. I also think it’s a very bad thing for Germany. Because it’s like, what, are they waving a white flag?”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, told reporters after the president’s comments in Brussels that she had “experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union” and said her country today made “independent policies” and “independent decisions.

In the CBS News interview, Mr. Trump also continued to criticize the special counsel’s Russia investigation, saying it is having an impact on America’s standing in the world. “I think we’re greatly hampered by this whole witch hunt that’s going on in the United States,” the president said. “I think it hurts our relationship with Russia. I actually think it hurts our relationship with a lot of countries. I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on.”

Mr. Trump heads to Helsinki on Sunday ahead of his meeting with Putin on Monday. He told Glor he has “low expectations” for the summit. “Nothing bad is going to come out of it, and maybe some good will come out,” he said.

[CBS News]

Trump fires warning shot at allies before leaving for NATO meeting: ‘US must pay less — very unfair!’

President Donald Trump railed against NATO allies before boarding Air Force One for the annual meeting in Europe.

The president has ramped up his complaints about the decades-old alliance in recent weeks, and he fired off two tweets early Tuesday before departing for the meeting with allied leaders.

“Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO,” the president tweeted. “The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!”

Trump will also visit Great Britain and then Helsinki, Finland, for a private, one-on-one-meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin, whose country’s most important strategic goal is the weakening of NATO.

“NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!” Trump tweeted.

[Raw Story]

Dutch Prime Minister Tells Trump “No!” and That He Is Wrong on Trade

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has dispensed with diplomatic niceties during a joint press conference with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The routine White House discussion with reporters took a slightly passive-aggressive turn as Trump extolled the virtues of his plan to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the U.S. from the European Union.

Trump said he would discuss the dispute with EU officials before saying: “If we do work it out, that’ll be positive, and if we don’t, it’ll be positive also because…” before Rutte interjected by saying “No!”

“Well, just think about those cars that pour in here, and we’ll do something, right?” Trump replied.

But Rutte was not having it and said through gritted teeth: “It’s not positive,” adding, “We have to work something out.”

Trump then moved to shake the prime minister’s hand and the awkward interaction was over.

It showed the level of discontent among European leaders at Trump’s trade move,which he is threatening to apply to cars.The EU has threatened to retaliate  with tariffs worth $294 billion on a number of U.S. exports.

In a paper released this week, the European Commission said Trump’s tariffs would be “self-defeating and would weaken the U.S. economy.

“The European Union would therefore caution the United States against pursuing a process which could result in yet another disregard of international law, which would damage further the reputation of the United States and which the international community cannot and will not accept,” the EU report said.

There is domestic concern, too, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce criticizing how Trump handled global disputes. It said that the tariffs he wants to impose could hurt the American economy. Trump is also threatening to impose tariffs on vehicles.

[Newsweek]

Trump rips Canada, NATO in Singapore tweetstorm

President Donald Trump started his day in Singapore on Monday blasting the Canadian Prime Minister and slamming NATO just after meeting with the U.S. allies at the G-7 meeting in Quebec.

“Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal,” Trump tweeted Monday morning in Singapore. “According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”

Trump was referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the tweet.

The president has accused Canada of taking advantage of American workers through their trade practices.

According to the U.S. trade representative, however, there was an $8.4 billion U.S. trade surplus with Canada on goods and services in 2017.

Trump also took aim at NATO for relying too heavily on the U.S. for their security.

“The U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!),” Trump tweeted. “The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!”

The U.S. pays 22% of NATO’s budget — higher than any other nation.

The U.S. has pushed NATO member nations to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP — a benchmark some have been unable to meet.

Trump was in Singapore preparing for his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“Great to be in Singapore, excitement in the air!” Trump wrote.

[New York Post]

Trump told Macron EU worse than China on trade

President Donald Trump told French President Emmanuel Macron that the European Union is worse than China on trade during a conversation that portended the tense end to this year’s G7 summit.

In a meeting at the White House during the French president’s visit to Washington in April, Macron suggested the United States and France should work together to resolve shared trade problems with Beijing, prompting Trump to make his remark, a person in the room told CNN.

Trump told Macron during their meeting in Washington that there are too many German cars in the United States, the source previously told CNN. The source did not say Trump explicitly said he wanted all German-made cars out of the US. Trump focused his conversation with Macron on German trade for about 15 minutes in the one-hour meeting.

Trump has been on a tear about German trade and cars in particular, bringing up the issues with other European leaders with whom he has met over the last few months, the source said.

The details of the conversation, which Axios previously reported, come amid fears of a looming trade war over the Trump administration’s move to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Those tensions boiled over during the G7 summit in Canada on Saturday, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and European leaders reaffirming plans to institute retaliatory measures and Trump lashing out in response byrefusing to endorse the group of industrialized nations’ communique.

That, in turn, prompted harsh reactions from European officials and members of Congress, including Republican Sen. John McCain, who said Americans would continue to stand with the nation’s historical allies.

“To our allies: bipartisan majorities of Americans remain pro-free trade, pro-globalization & supportive of alliances based on 70 years of shared values,” the Arizona senator tweeted. “Americans stand with you, even if our president doesn’t.”

Senior Trump aides escalated the rhetoric on Sunday morning’s news shows, with chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow calling Trudeau’s remarks “a betrayal” on CNN’s “State of the Union” and top trade adviser Peter Navarro saying on “Fox News Sunday” that “there’s a special place in hell” for the Canadian leader.

Trump, who is in Singapore for negotiations with North Korea, continued to rip into US trading partners late Sunday night Eastern Time, repeating complaints about the US trade deficit and contributions to NATO.

“Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal,” Trump wrote in a series of postson Twitter. “According to a Canada release, they make almost 100 Billion Dollars in Trade with U.S. (guess they were bragging and got caught!). Minimum is 17B. Tax Dairy from us at 270%. Then Justin acts hurt when called out!”

“Why should I, as President of the United States, allow countries to continue to make Massive Trade Surpluses, as they have for decades, while our Farmers, Workers & Taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?” the President continued. “Not fair to the PEOPLE of America! $800 Billion Trade Deficit … And add to that the fact that the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!). The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!”

[CNN]

Kudlow: Trudeau ‘stabbed us in the back’

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow repeatedly accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of “betrayal” and saying he “stabbed us in the back” for standing up to President Donald Trump after the G-7 meeting.

Speaking hours after Trump ordered the U.S. not to endorse the G-7 communique, Kudlow slammed Trudeau for a “sophomoric play” in holding a press conference after the G-7 meetings and saying Canadians “will not be pushed around.” Soon afterward, Trump tweeted that the U.S. would not participate in the G-7 communique agreed to earlier on Saturday.

“He really kind of stabbed us in the back,” said Kudlow, the White House National Economic Council director, speaking on CNN‘s “State of the Union.“

Kudlow, who said he was in the bilateral meeting with Trudeau and Trump, said the two leaders “were getting along famously.”

“We were very close to making a deal with Canada on NAFTA, bilaterally perhaps, and then we leave and Trudeau pulls this sophomoric, political stunt for domestic consumption.”

Kudlow told Jake Tapper he likes Trudeau personally, but that the Canadian leader was trying to score political points in attacking Trump.

“Trudeau made an error. He should take it back. He should pull back on his statements,” Kudlow said.

[Politico]

Reality

Trump left the G-7 and did a news conference bashing Canada on trade. Then Trudeau did a news conference in which he said the same things about the steel/aluminum tariffs he’s been saying for a week.

They were not close to making a bilateral NAFTA deal. He’s just making things up.

Ah, Kudlow finally explains what’s going on here: “Now, POTUS is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around, push him, POTUS, around, President Trump, on the eve of this — he is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea.”

So…per the White House, Trump is insulting the prime minister of Canada because he wants to impress Kim Jong Un.

Trump Holds Solo News Conference, Defends Bashing Press

President Donald Trump stepped to the microphone alone Saturday to take reporters’ questions, just the second time he’d done so since taking office more than a year ago.

He talked about his desire for countries to remove all barriers to the free flow of goods. He looked ahead to the next big meeting on his schedule — a summit in Singapore next week with North Korea’s leader. Along the way, Trump bashed the U.S. press and defended why he does it.

“I’d like to ask you why you do that?” said a White House reporter from the news agency Agence France-Presse.

Trump, who is obsessed with his media coverage and has labeled the press “the enemy of the people,” defended the steady stream of attacks.

“Because the U.S. press is very dishonest. Much of it, not all of it,” Trump said. “Oh, I have some folks in your profession that are with the U.S., in the U.S., citizens, proud citizens; they’re reporters. These are some of the most outstanding people I know. But there are many people in the press that are unbelievably dishonest. They don’t cover stories the way they’re supposed to be. They don’t even report them in many cases if they’re positive. So there’s tremendous — you know, I came up with the term ‘fake news.’

“It’s a lot of ‘fake news,’ but at the same time I have great respect for many of the people in the press,” he said.

During an earlier point in the news conference, Trump referred to a CNN producer’s “fake friends at CNN.”

Unlike with a more formal news conference, typically announced days in advance, the White House gave journalists traveling with Trump little warning that he was coming to their workspace to make a statement and answer questions before leaving the Group of Seven summit in Quebec to fly to Singapore.

He answered questions from just the small group, or “pool,” of reporters who travel with him, not the much larger universe of reporters who cover the White House on a daily basis and would attend a less hastily arranged question-and-answer session.

Trump seems more fond of sparring with reporters when he can share the stage with a foreign counterpart, as he did this past week at the White House after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had stopped in Washington to consult with Trump before the G-7 and the upcoming Kim summit.

The president has also been more open to answering questions during brief appearances at the White House, such as at bill-signing ceremonies or meetings with lawmakers, or on the South Lawn when he leaves or returns from an out-of-town trip.

Trump last appeared solo before reporters in February 2017, less than a month into his presidency. It was a rollicking, quickly arranged, 77-minute free-for-all in the stately East Room of the White House during which he railed against the news media, defended his fired national security adviser and insisted that no one who advised his campaign had had any contacts with Russia.

[The New York Times]

Trump blasts Macron, Trudeau ahead of G-7 summit

President Trump on Thursday lashed out at the leaders of France and Canada over roiling trade disputes, setting the stage for a confrontational Group of Seven summit of major economic powers.

A day before leaving for the meeting in Canada, Trump singled out French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Twitter for threatening to isolate the U.S. over his efforts to change global trade rules.

“Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers,” Trump wrote. “The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out.”

The president added: “Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”

The message shows the depth of Trump’s unhappiness about the summit, where he is expected to take major backlash over his trade policies.

Macron and Trudeau met in Ottawa, Canada, this week ahead of the summit and presented a united front against Trump’s tack toward protectionism.

Asked during a joint press conference if Trump does not care about “being isolated” from other world leaders, Macron responded, “Maybe, but nobody is forever.”

“The six countries of the G7 without the United States, are a bigger market taken together than the American market,” Macron said.

Macron threatened to sign a joint communique at the conclusion with the summit with five other nations — but not the U.S. — expressing their desire for free trade.

“The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be,” he tweeted. “Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.”

The president imposed steep steel and aluminum tariffs late last month on Canada, Mexico and the European Union — some of the U.S.’s closest allies.

The administration used a little-known legal provision that allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs on those goods for national security reasons.

[The Hill]

Reality

U.S. goods and services trade with the EU totaled nearly $1.1 trillion in 2016.  Exports totaled $501 billion; Imports totaled $592 billion.  The U.S. goods and services trade deficit with the EU was $92 billion in 2016.

Kudlow: ‘Don’t blame Trump’ for the trade conflicts he created

Top White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow contended Wednesday that President Donald Trump should not be held responsible for mounting trade conflicts with American allies, as the president gets set to face world leaders angered by tariffs imposed by the U.S.

“Don’t blame Trump. Blame the nations that have broken away” from fair trade practices, he told reporters. The global trade system “is broken and President Trump is trying to fix it. And that’s the key point,” Kudlow added.

The National Economic Council director downplayed concerns about tensions with key American allies ahead of Trump’s trip to Canada at the end of the week for a summit with leaders of the Group of 7 economies. Trump recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from countries including the other six members — Canada, FranceGermanyItalyJapan and the United Kingdom — prompting retaliatory measures against the U.S.

The developments have prompted concerns about a trade war that could damage the U.S. economy or cause frayed relations with allies. The tariffs have sparked backlash not only abroad but at home, where Trump is trying to stop an effort from free trade Republicans to push back against the measures. Both U.S. lawmakers and foreign officials have questioned Trump’s national security justification for imposing the tariffs.

Ahead of Trump’s G-7 meetings, Kudlow, a former CNBC senior contributor, downplayed the prospect of a “trade war” with allies — calling the tensions “disputes that need to be solved.” He said he hopes the summit, where Trump will have bilateral talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, will lead to substantive discussions on trade.

Last week, the Trump administration said it would not exempt Canada, Mexico and the European Union from tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The decision came as the U.S., Canada and Mexico have faltered in efforts to strike a revised North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump has long pledged to crack down on what he calls unfair trade practices and bad trade deals. He contends foreign countries had punished U.S. companies and stolen jobs away from American workers — one component of the appeal that carried him to the White House. Ultimately, he wants to increase U.S. exports and reduce trade deficits.

While numerous Republicans who support Trump — and Democrats who typically do not — have backed tough responses to alleged trade abuses by China, the tariffs on the key American allies brought the harshest response yet to Trump’s trade actions both domestically and abroad. Trudeau reportedly said he wanted to have “frank” talks with Trump during the G-7 meetings.

Asked whether Trump had damaged relations with Canada, Kudlow answered that he was not worried about temporary tensions.

“I have no doubt the United States and Canada will remain firm friends and allies,” Kudlow said.

The White House economic advisor also denied reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pushed for a tariff exemption for Canada during a meeting this week. Kudlow said both he and the Treasury secretary attended the meeting and did not say a word.

The U.S. has also sought help from allies as it tries to reach a deal to reduce trade deficits with China and stop alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property by Chinese companies. The U.S. has reached neither a broad deal with China to avoid potentially damaging tariffs, nor an agreement to revive Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, according to Kudlow.

He said he believes the rest of the world agrees with Trump about Chinese trade practices.

[CNBC]

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