"We here, in the European Union, believe that trade can and should be win-win. We also believe that while trade has to be open and fair, it has also to be rules-based. The European Union stands ready to react swiftly and appropriately in case our exports are affected by any restrictive trade measures from the United States," Margaritis Skinas, the official representative of the European Commission (EC) stated on Monday at a press conference in Brussels.
The comment follows US President Donald Trump's statement made earlier in the day during an interview with UK ITV broadcaster, saying that he had a lot of problems with the European Union in the sphere of trade, calling their practices discriminatory toward the US and explaining that their alleged international currency manipulations had impacted the US trade deficit over the past two decades.
In his tough rhetoric on the issue, Trump announced he would pursue full enforcement of international trade rules, and didn't rule out the further use of customs tariffs and regulatory action against dumping practices and foreign currency manipulations. This comes after he slapped Chinese and South Korean washing machines and solar panels with a 30-percent import tax.
However, the EU has criticized President Trump-proposed economic policies in the US as well, calling them a 'threat' to international trade and economic relations, envisioning higher competition for markets and investment capital from American companies.
In September, the EU's economic and financial committee stated that the rise of the American protectionism and supply-side reforms are poised to undermine the stability of global trade. The US' shift toward an export-driven economic model, the EU says, could do significant harm to the international economic ties and suppress the global growth outlook.
Trump has been pursuing a protectionist policy of putting "America First" since Day One in office.
"From this day forward it is only going to be America first. Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs," he said during his inauguration.
The US President has made it repeatedly clear that he prefers bilateral trade agreements over multilateral ones, having pulled the United States off Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and put negotiations over a free trade deal between the United States and the European Union (TTIP) on hold. The EU and the US formally launched negotiations on the TTIP in 2013, and following 15 rounds of talks the negotiations were halted at the end of 2016 after Trump took the office.
The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that would have reduced tariff barriers targeted three main areas such as market access, specific regulation and broader rules, principals, modes of cooperation. According to the EU, given the low average tariffs (under 3 percent), the deal could have eventually removed non-tariff barriers.