Chuck Grassley, the top US senator on trade policy and a close ally of Donald Trump, stated the president was leaning towards putting tariffs on automotive imports, in the hope of enforcing Brussels to further open the EU market to American farm products.
Discussing with reporters in the US Capitol on Wednesday, Grassley stated Europe was “very afraid” of US tariffs on vehicles and vehicle part imports and they could be “the instrument that gets Europe to negotiate” on agriculture.
“I think it would not necessarily be the best thing to do but I think the president is inclined to do it,” stated Grassley, the 85-year-old Iowa Republican who is chairman of the Senate finance committee, in reference to car tariffs.
“I’m not in favour of tariffs but they are a fact of life when Trump is in the White House — they may be an effective tool.”
Grassley’s comments came before a February 17 deadline for the US commerce department to provide a report if automotive imports constitute a threat to US national security, which could make the way for Trump to put tariffs on the products in a big blow to both the EU and Japan.
US negotiators are pushing hard for the EU to drop its resistance to the inclusion of agriculture in trade talks that were started after a summit in July last year between Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.