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European Commission chief may visit Washington next month: ambassador

European Commission chief may visit Washington next month: ambassador
January 23, 2020
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen may visit Washington in early February, EU Ambassador Stavros Lambrinidis said on Wednesday. US President Donald Trump met von der Leyen in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday and said afterward he had “very good” talks but maintained that if a trade deal was not struck with the EU, Washington would strongly consider auto tariffs.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump threatened to impose high tariffs on imports of cars from the European Union if the bloc doesn’t agree to a trade deal.
Trump has previously made threats to place duties on European automobile imports, with the intent of receiving better terms in the U.S.-Europe trade relationship. Trump has delayed imposing the tariffs a number of times. “I met with the new head of the European Commission, who’s terrific. And I had a great talk. But I said, ‘look, if we don’t get something, I’m going to have to take action’ and the action will be very high tariffs on their cars and on other things that come into our country,” Trump told CNBC’s Joe Kernen in an interview from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Former German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen succeeded Jean-Claude Juncker at the end of 2019 as the EU’s top official, becoming the first woman to hold the post. The European Union is as strong economically as the United States, and will respond to any additional U.S. tariffs “in the same dimension,” Germany’s ambassador to the United States, Emily Haber, said at an event in Washington. French Ambassador Philippe Etienne told the same event that the EU hoped to negotiate a settlement with Washington, warning that tit-for-tat tariffs would hurt both economies. “It is not in our interest to have an escalation of tariffs,” he said. Mike Manley, the head of European car industry lobby group ACEA, said businesses need certainty and hoped that a clash with Trump could be avoided. “If you look at President Trump’s track record I think he is incredibly serious. If the parties involved approach those discussions in a serious manner it will be possible for an amicable conclusion to be reached,” Manley, who is the chief executive of Fiat Chrysler, told an industry event in Brussels.