In an unscheduled press conference that left reporters “scrambling” in the White House, President Trump appeared alongside European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
At the press conference, Trump announced that he and Juncker had agreed to work towards a “zero-tariffs, barriers and subsidies” relationship between America and the European Union”.
Trump also said that the U.S. and the E.U. are going to set up an executive working group to work on trade and manage existing tariffs to the “betterment of both”.
“We will work closely together with likeminded partners…to address unfair trading practices,” Trump said.
Following the conference, Trump tweeted, “The United States and the European Union have a $1 TRILLION bilateral trade relationship – the largest economic relationship in the world. We want to further strengthen this trade relationship to the benefit of all American and European citizens…”
The press conference was apparently so rushed that no chairs were set up in the rose garden for reporters. White House Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell tweeted that it was a “hurried staff setup unusual for a WH event.”
Earlier in the day, Trump had a meeting with Juncker in which Juncker reminded Trump that America and Europe were “partners and allies, not enemies,” and that their talks should focus on decreasing tariffs rather than increasing them. Trump agreed with Juncker in the meeting, saying that the United States would be “very pleased if there were no tariffs, barriers or subsidies.”
This conversation came in the wake of comments Trump made earlier this month in which he called the European Union a “foe”.
During his time visiting the Turnberry golf course in Scotland, Trump was asked by ‘CBS Evening News’ anchor Jeff Glor who he thought were the biggest foes that America faced. Trump said, “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.”
Trump added, “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.”