Trump: US-EU trade deal could be 'very close'

Americans signal readiness for broad agreement, but German and Italian leaders say much remains to be done.

    US President Donald Trump shows affection for German Chancellor Angela Merkel as G7 leaders gather for a family picture in front of the Biarritz lighthouse [Andrew Parsons/Pool/Getty Images]
    US President Donald Trump shows affection for German Chancellor Angela Merkel as G7 leaders gather for a family picture in front of the Biarritz lighthouse [Andrew Parsons/Pool/Getty Images]

    United States President Donald Trump said on Monday that he thinks the US will be able to reach a fair trade agreement with the European Union without imposing threatened tariffs on car imports.

    Trump said it had been difficult negotiating with the European Union on trade issues, but he struck an upbeat tone on the prospects for a broad agreement with Brussels that would offer a potential lifeline to German carmakers.

    "We're very close to maybe making a deal with the EU because they don't want tariffs," Trump said at a news conference at the end of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France. "I think we're going to make a deal with the EU without having to go that route."

    The US president's comments came amid reports that export-dependent Germany is facing an economic recession.

    Trade talks between the US and Europe have moved slowly, given disagreements over whether to include agricultural products in a deal.

    Beyond automobiles and foodstuffs, energy, airplanes and tech also pose risks for a broader agreement.

    While the US runs a trade deficit with the EU, transatlantic ties are seen as a linchpin of global economic stability.

    'Working hard on this'

    Trump offered no details on trip preparations, but said he planned to visit Germany soon at the invitation of outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    Merkel told reporters on Monday that Germany wants the European Union to reach a trade agreement with the US as quickly as possible.

    "We want to talk now about the EU and the United States having deeper talks as quickly as possible," Merkel told reporters at a briefing with Trump on the sidelines of the G7 summit.

    "We have a great interest in our trade being intensified. I think we can find solutions," Merkel added. "Germany, within the framework of the EU, is working hard on this."

    Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte - who also attended the Biarritz summit - warned fellow G7 leaders on Sunday of the dangers of protectionism and urged the US not to carry through on its threat to impose tariffs on German autos.

    "This measure would strongly impact the Italian system, considering how our automotive industry is integrated with that of Germany," Conte told the G7 chiefs, according to an Italian official present at the talks.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies