US President Donald Trump (Reuters file)
US President Donald Trump (Reuters file)

Lost in Trump’s China week was a postcard to Europe: You are next

  • The European Union is worse than China, just smaller. It treats us horribly: barriers, tariffs, taxes: US President Donald Trump
  • The EU’s trade surplus with the US stood at almost $83 billion in the first half of 2019, up more than 11% from a year earlier

US President Donald Trump drew so much attention this past week on matters ranging from wanting to buy Greenland to a supporter’s weight problems, that it was easy to miss some of his more stinging remarks on trade.

While much of the focus was on his plans to divide up implementation of the next round of 10% tariffs on Chinese imports between Sept. 1 and Dec. 15, and on the stock market plunge that followed, comments he made at a rally in New England signaled no backing down from his views about imbalances elsewhere.

“The European Union is worse than China, just smaller. It treats us horribly: barriers, tariffs, taxes," he told a crowd Thursday in Manchester, New Hampshire, a city originally modeled after its industrial namesake in England. “They treat us really badly.'

It’s hardly the first time he’s gone there with the EU. But Eurostat numbers on Friday didn’t help the continent’s case with Trump, who sees a ledger with more exports than imports as winning. The EU’s trade surplus with the US stood at almost 75 billion euros ($83 billion) in the first half of 2019, up more than 11% from a year earlier. Germany’s surplus is by far the largest in the bloc.

Tariff tensions between the U.S. and China are catching much of the blame for recent turmoil in financial markets because it involves the world’s two largest economies. It’s hard to fathom the additional fallout if Europe gets engulfed next in Trump’s trade wars.

That Trump isn’t softening up his rhetoric on some of the biggest U.S. allies in Europe is important for a couple of reasons -- both coming up fast, and both fuel for more trade war uncertainty. Among them:

All this makes for an interesting gathering at the Group of Seven leaders’ summit next weekend. The venue: the seaside town of Biarritz, France. The G-7 summit in Canada last year ended amid trade fights, with White House trade adviser Peter Navarro famously concluding that there’s a “special place in hell" for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — comments Navarro later apologized for.

Before the Biarritz gathering, though, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office is holding a hearing Monday on France’s contentious digital tax, which targets 3% of large tech companies’ revenue from digital activities. The tax, which applies retroactively to Jan. 1, targets companies like Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, likely hitting about 30 companies overall.

Trump, while often at odds with Big Tech, disapproves of France’s move. “If anyone taxes them, it should be their home country," he tweeted in July.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed

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