Trump revives threat of 25 percent tax on European cars

WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump on late Tuesday again threatened to hit European cars with a 25 percent tax, seemingly forgeting about his pledge not to impose new tariffs on the EU as long as the two sides are making progress in trade talks.

“We are going to put a tax of 25 percent on every car that comes in from the European Union,” Trump said at a campaign-style event in Charleston, West Virginia.

The U.S. administration is currently investigating whether imported cars pose a threat to national security, although U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Tuesday that the investigation possibly won’t be finished before the November congressional election.

Reacting to Trump’s remarks on late Tuesday, U.S. administration officials sought to downplay them as rhetoric, saying Trump intends to keep to the agreement he struck in July with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to work toward “zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.”

POLITICO reported Wednesday that Brussels is keen to include cars in transatlantic trade talks in the longer term, although tariffs in this area probably won’t go down to zero, mainly because of reservations on the American side to lift a 25 percent U.S. tariff on light trucks and pick-ups.

Senior EU and U.S. officials met Monday in Washington for preparative trade talks in an Executive Working Group, which is supposed to map out the content and scope of a future trade deal until November.

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