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'A big day for free trade' says Trump

Trade war fears ease as US and EU agree lower tariffs

Juncker and Trump

Progress: Jean-Claude Juncker, President Donald Trump at the White House


 

Asian markets expressed relief overnight as the United States and Europe appeared to be on track to avoid a trade war after agreeing to work towards lowering tariff barriers.

After meeting European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, President Donald Trump said the two would also agree to increase trade in services and agriculture.

“This is a very big day for fair and free trade,” Mr Trump told reporters after the meeting in Washington.

“We are starting the negotiation right now but we know very much where it’s going,” he said.

The negotiators would “work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.”

He added: “We will also work to reduce barriers and increase trade in services, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, medical products, as well as soybeans; soybeans is a big deal.”

He said Europe would also step up purchases of liquefied natural gas from the US. The talks appeared to ease pressure for tariffs the United States placed on imports of steel and aluminium from the EU and the tariffs Europe had slapped on U.S goods in response.

Mr Juncker added: “This was a good and constructive meeting.” He said striking a deal on zero tariffs on industrial goods was his “main intention”.

He also described as a “major concession” Mr Trump’s agreement to hold off on car tariffs.

He added: “I had one intention today, to make a deal, and we made a deal. We have a number of areas on which to work together.”



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